Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Simple Secular Dinner Prayer

Praying Hands
Praying Hands (Photo credit: C Jill Reed)
I think teaching children about Gratitude is extremely important. A few months ago, I decided it was time for our family to start Giving Thanks before eating.

We eat meat and so I think it's particularly imperative to recognize the fact that an animal gave it's life for our body's nourishment before we chow down.

I was pleasantly surprised by my daughter's reaction. She was around 22 months or so, when we began this ritual. I did it maybe three or four times, before SHE became the one to remind us to pray. She calls it "jay-jay" (what her Indian Grand-mother calls praying).

Honestly, I forget sometimes. And, boy, do I get the smack down from the "jay-jay" police. She harasses everyone at the table to fold their hands properly and close their eyes. And, you better be snappy about it. Of course, she still likes to sneak a bite or two, while I'm saying a prayer (or at least that is what her Daddy and Papa have told me). But, I am happy that our family is making Giving Thanks a daily habit.

Here is a simple Dinner Prayer from The Complete Buddhism for Mothers


The Joys and Pains of all beings

are present in the gift of this food.

Let us receive it in Love

and Gratitude...



I like it because it's brief, yet profound. And, feels it very secular to me. I think I'll start teaching it to my daughter is a few months.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Relay Foods




Simplicity. What's more simple than having your groceries delivered to your front door?

If you live in an area where you can find a Giant grocery store, you have probably heard of Peapod.  Peapod is a "Grocery Delivery Service" that drops off your order straight to your door. My family has used Peapod twice and have been very happy with the service.

But, what I am really excited about is another DC/Northern VA/Baltimore Grocery Delivery service called Relay Foods.

It's the same concept as Peapod but most of the products are LOCAL to MD, PA and VA.  You get the ease of Peapod combined with the knowledge that you are supporting local farmers while getting top-notch fresh food.

During my my seven years in Baltimore, I visited my Farmer's Market every week-end (Baltimore is so lucky to have a terrific year round Farmer's Market).

Now, I live in Northern Virginia and have a kid and it's not so easy.

With Relay Foods, you can either enter your zip code in to see if they do Home Delivery or you can pick-up your groceries once a week at a central location in your area. If you do Home Delivery you have the option to pay $20 for Unlimited Monthly Deliveries or $10 for each individual Delivery. The Unlimited Monthly Delivery is a terrific deal, especially if you are getting groceries at least once a week.

Relay Foods is also available in Charlottesville, VA and the Richmond/Williamsburg area.

I can't wait to try them out!

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Birthing Necklace


 

Flash-back to my first Pregnancy. Before our co-ed, boozy Baby Shower for 100 people, I had a brief "Mother Blessing" with some special women in my life. I asked each woman to bring a bead to add to the necklace I was planning on wearing during my Labor. My Mother supplied a huge stash of extra beads for those who hadn't brought one.

We went around the circle and everyone shared why they chose the bead they had chosen and a wish for me during my transition to Motherhood. It was a lovely, simple ceremony that made me feel very supported.

My Mother ended up wearing the necklace during my Labor.

Beginning at age 10 months or so, my daughter became intrigued by this very special necklace. She loved wearing it. Unfortunately, she loved it a bit too much and the strand broke after much handling. I have all the pieces in a bowl waiting to be restrung. (Haven't been able to find a photo of it in it's original state).

I didn't have a Mother Blessing for this pregnancy, but I still wanted to have a Birthing Necklace.

During my first Labor, one visualization that really helped me was inspired by a story my Mother often tells.

When I was 6 years old, I got the Chicken Pox. I still had a few Chicken Pox scabs, when I went back to my ballet class after I had recovered. My Mother was sitting in the waiting room, outside of the dressing room, when she heard another little girl begin to tease me about my scabs. My Mother described how she felt herself morph into Mama Tiger. She literally felt her fangs and claws growing and had to restraint herself from leaping upon my taunter.

This story has always stuck with me. And, so I found myself contemplating it, while in Labor. I visualized myself turning into a powerful Tiger Mama, who would do whatever needed to be done to protect my baby. It gave me strength during my 2 1/2 hours of pushing, when my 9 lb baby insisted on keeping her fist on the side of her face and just wasn't eager to come out.

I love the visualization of a fierce Tiger Mama so much that I decided to make a Birthing Necklace out of Tiger-eye Stones.

Our dear friend, Julie, gifted me money for my Birthday. So, I decided to something special with the money and use it to make a necklace at the Potomac Bead Company in Old Town Alexandria (if you've ever made your own jewelry...you know Bead Stores are NOT cheap).

I'm not familiar with the different meanings or properties of various stones and crystals (which is very big in my husband's religion, Jainism).

I did some research and went to the Potomac Bead Company with a list of stones I wanted to use. They didn't carry everything I wanted, but there were plenty of ones on my list.





Here are the "Stones I chose to use in my Birthing Necklace" and their properties...

1. Tiger-eye (Good Luck and Protection)

2. Black Onyx (defends against Negativity directed at you, release of Grief and Sorrow)

3. Rose Quartz (opens your heart to Positive, Gentle Love and to all the Beauty within, heals emotional wounds)

4. Rutilated Quartz (Openness, gets Energy moving)

5. Black crystals (picked these as filler between the other Stones)


It's not necessarily the most beautiful necklace I have ever made, but I am excited to wear it! And, it give it to this daughter as a heirloom when she is old enough.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Treating Minor Burns with Honey. A Simple Home Remedy.

 

I was a little bit careless when I was making a batch of Carrot and Ginger Soup, a few weeks ago. When I threw it some onions into the stock pot, they hit the oil and exploded back out. Luckily, I just a few small minor burns (above is a picture of the one looks like a little heart).

I grew up being taught to put Aloe on minor burns and so I ran over to my Aloe plant and tore off a bit (my Grand-father who was a medical Doctor always reminded us of the importance of having an Aloe plant in your house).

The aloe helped a bit, but it was still painful. Then, I remembered about how, according to Webmd"honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties".

I slathered on some honey to my wrist and it immediately felt better. It didn't hurt again.

I let it air dry and soak up into my skin.

It was messy and annoying to have to be careful with my hand for the rest of the Evening. (My husband was irritated when I got him a little sticky...he was convinced that ants were to attack him in bed in the middle of night). But, it was definitely worth the annoyance.

It has healed very nicely. I found this Study on how "honeys from different geographical areas have considerable therapeutic effects on chronic wounds, ulcers, and burns" to be very interesting. Another reason why I always like to have some honey stocked in my house.

Have you ever used honey to treat any burns?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Clary Sage Essential Oil and Pain Relief During Labor






Tomorrow, I will be 40 weeks! Patiently waiting and enjoying these last few days of my Pregnancy. At my 40 week Pre-natal Appointment, I chatted a lot about herbs (Black and Blue Cohoshes and Cotton Root Bark) with my Midwife. She asked if I was planning on using "Clary Sage Essential during Labor."

I'm not very familiar with Essential Oils, so I hadn't considered it. Some of the other Midwives at the practice had just come back from a workshop where Clary Sage had been discussed.

Then I stumbled upon a Study of over 8,000 women in the U.K conducted over 8 years that showed that Clary Sage can be useful for pain management during Labor.

"The evidence from this study suggests that aromatherapy can be effective in reducing maternal anxiety, fear and/or pain during labour. The use of aromatherapy appeared to facilitate a further reduction in the use of systemic opioids in the study centre, from 6% in 1990 to 0.4% in 1997 (per woman). "

Sounds pretty promising.

Here is a post that explains various methods of application. Luckily, I enjoy the smell of Clary Sage - I know it can be pretty strong for some folks. Remember essential oils should be put in some type of carrier oil before putting it directly on your skin. I can't wait to try it in my tub!

If you've used during Labor, I love to hear your story!





****And, please remember to always get the okay from your Care Provider first. Thanks.

10 Assumptions I Had While Pregnant With My First Child



I am reposting this piece, I wrote right after Nye-Nye turned One.

Here are some of the Assumptions I had before becoming a Mother....

1.   I would be sore for 6 weeks or so. I knew I was going to be sore. I knew I would bleed. But, I thought after about 6 weeks or so and then I would be feeling mostly better. Nope, my stitches hurt for 3 months. It was difficult to walk or sit. I carried a donut pillow around for ages. Every time I squatted for months afterwards, I ached. Not expecting that one.

 
2.   I probably would not pump. I didn’t even think I would end up buying a pump. But, with my daughter in the NICU for the first 16 days of her life, the one thing I could do for her was pump my milk. So, I started and haven’t stopped. Pumping means I’ve been able to leave her in the safe hands of her Grand-parents countless times. Not expecting that one.



3.   I was NOT going to give my child a pacifier. Like maybe never. Things changed when I was wheeled in the NICU, when she was 6 hours old and caught the nurse about to give her a pacifier. I was not happy. But, the nurse explained that my baby was trying to get pull all her tubes out. Although, she was sedated, she was still uncomfortable and a pacifier was necessary. So, I caved. Not expecting that one.



4.   I have worked with children since I was 19 years old. I’m a teacher for Christsake….I have a degree in patience. One child can’t test your patience that much, can she? The answer is “yes.” I thought I would have a leg-up. Nope. Not expecting that one.



5.   I would LOVE breast-feeding. Don’t get me wrong, I am so very happy that I’ve been able to breast-feed my child for a year. I just thought it would be a mystical, beautiful bonding experience. There are definitely such moments. But, I have a VERY active child who LOVES to do yoga and gymnastics while nursing. Ummm....not so fun for Mama. She's also easily distracted and nibbles. This translates to nursing frequently....also not so fun for Mama. Not expecting that one.



6.   Cloth Diapers will only be one extra load of laundry a week. Okay, maybe if you have a TON of diapers. But, my husband has not been gung-ho about the cloth diaper thing, so I haven’t been able to buy many diapers. We switched to pocket diapers at 6 months. Right now, we have 9 diapers. That means I’m washing diapers about 4 times a week. Not expecting that one.



7.   I could not survive on being woken up 5-7 times a night for 9 months. Not fun this one. I've only survived by napping with her once a day and by spending 5-6 nights a month at my parents' house. She sleeps in their room and I get some beautifully, uninterrupted sleep. The rest of my days, I soldier through....usually sore, usually cranky in the mornings. But, I'm still going. Not expecting that one.



8.   No plastic crap would be entering my house. I have not bought any plastic crap for my child. But, other (well-meaning) people have and so we do have some loud, plastic toys at our house. My daughter always seems to find where I hide them. Many of them have found a new home at Dada and Dadi's house (a win-win situation for everyone). She relishes every chance she gets to play with them. Not expecting that one.



9.   My child would not glimpse a television until she was at least 2 years old. Okay, she does not watch T.V. at our house. But, we lived with my in-laws for the first 5 months of her life and they watch a lot of T.V.. I had to accept the fact that she would occasionally be enraptured by various commercials on the Indian channels. Dada tried to get her into watching Nick Jr. (thankfully, she resisted). I just had to bite my tongue. Not expecting that one.



10.   I would love being a Stay-at-Home Mama. This is what I always wanted (at least staying at home for the early years). I knew it was going to rough. And, I was right. I just didn't think it was going to be such a struggle. Doing laundry at midnight is not fun. Trying to make conversation at the play-ground is hard. Attempting to do dishes with a fussy toddler attached to your leg is impossible. There are many days, I just want to drop her off at the nearest day-care and not come back for a LONG, LONG time. Not expecting that one. Then, I see this smile....


 

and listen to her laugh. And, I change my mind (about the whole not returning for a long time thing).
 
There they are...10 Assumptions smashed into dust, after becoming a Mama.

A Birth Day Present for the Big Sister

 
 
My daughter first expressed interested in dolls at around 15 months. We didn't have any at our house, but my Mother had several that really intrigued my toddler.
 
Now at 25 months she has two dolls at our house, an assortment at my Mothers and two at her Dada and Dadi's house. But, she has numerous "babies" that she lovingly tends to at home. These include: a praying mantis, a rat, a field mouse, a pink hippo, a cat, a pink bear and a monkey (all presents from our generous family and friends).
 
She adores putting her "babies" to bed, carrying them around in a toy infant seat carrier (that I got for $6 at a thrift store), giving them baths in a "tub" and pushing them around in a toy stroller.
 
It was an easy decision on what to give her as a present to celebrate her new role as a Big Sister (when her Baby Sisssher finally arrives). I found a "mini-Ergo Baby Carrier" that matches mine (except hers has some cool stars on it). We've talked a lot about what her Baby Sissy won't be able to do (like walk and talk and chew food). And, she knows that Mommy will have to carry the baby everywhere.
 
I can't wait to see my Big Girl wearing her very own Ergo. It will be interesting to see which of her "babies" gets carried the most.

Monday, April 22, 2013

An Easy Recipe for Making Bath-time Paint

 

After introducing my Toddler to the joys of painting oneself in the Bath-tub a few months ago, it quickly became one of her favorite activities.

I usually help her into the empty Bath-tub and give her several yogurt cups full of paint, several spoons and different size paint-brushes. She'll immediately become engrossed in covering her entire body with the paint. After 10 minutes or so, she will often ask for me to turn on the water. I'll turn just a trickle on for her and not add the tub stopper for awhile. Eventually, I plug up the tub and she'll take an actual Bath. This activity takes at least an hour...many days...1 1/2 hours.

What's my recipe for the paint?

I squirted some organic baby bubble bath in some clean yogurt cups, mixed in some cornmeal and added a few drops of food coloring. It takes about 5 minutes to set-up. Nothing original, but super easy and quick. I figured most of the paint would not be going in her mouth, so the food dye was okay.

Now, that the weather is getting warmer, I'm looking forward to introducing more Sensory Baths outside in her swimming pool! Growing a Jeweled Rose and Not-So-SAHM are both blogs that have numerous ideas for Sensory Baths. Looking forward to many hours spent outside!
 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

39 Week Update

 



 
 
Last time around, I was pregnant for THREE MORE WEEKS. I don't think that will be happening again. I am trying to savor these last few days, weeks. I only want to have two children and so, as long as things go well, this will be my last pregnancy.
 
One of my intentions this pregnancy was taking more Belly Shots. It might be self-absorbed taking tons of photos, but I've wanted to celebrate my changing body and the miracle of growing another human being. Here I am at 37 weeks and 6 days, enjoying the Sunshine and Warm Weather.
 
 
 
 
 
 
I seemed to have misplaced the battery charger for my camera, so I haven't been able to take any photos this past week. I finally bit the bullet and ordered another one. It's been driving me crazy not having a working camera right now. Grrrrrr....
 
At my 39th Week Pre-natal Appointment everything looked good. My blood pressure remains low. I gained 1 lb during the past week, putting my total weight gain at 32 lbs (as opposed to 38 lbs at this time during my last pregnancy). No swelling in my feet or hands (yay....Compression Socks). Baby's heart-beat is right on target. My Midwife estimated her weight to be at around 7 1/2 lbs.
 
 

 
 

I have been having a ton of "Braxton-Hicks Contractions" for the last 5-6 weeks. It's been making the tail-end of this pregnancy much more uncomfortable than the last one. I jumped through numerous hoops to actually get my first Labor started (Evening Primrose Oil at 40 weeks, Acupuncture, Castor Oil, having my membranes stripped twice, two attempts at breaking my waters)...I don't think that it's going to be an issue this time.

I've been taking lots of warm baths, drinking lots of Hot Toddies and Red Raspberry Leaf/ Nettle Tea and taking Lobelia and Wild Yam to calm my irritable uterus (or cranky uterus, as my Sister called it).




I know a lot of brain development occurs during the last few weeks of pregnancy, so I would like to make it until I was 40 weeks. Of course, the baby will decide when she wants to come.

Every nap I take with my daughter, makes me smile and cuddle just a little longer with her. It's so strange to think that it won't just be her and I during the day much longer.

I feel a little guilty that I haven't been walking as much as I did during my first time. But, this baby's head was down much earlier and I've been feeling A LOT of pressure for a while, now. Walking for 2 miles a day is just too damn uncomfortable. I have been enjoying a Pregnancy Belly-Dancing DVD that helps make my sore body feel better.





Things I've made during the past two weeks: some more Birth Art, a large container of Nipple Cream, a blend of Belly-Binding Herbal Paste, two quarts of Red Raspberry and Nettle Tea for Labor, homemade Chicken and Barley Soup, and another batch of Lentil and Black Bean Soup.

I finished stringing my tiger-eye Birthing Necklace. I visited GW's 5th Trimester Wellness Clinic to talk about the mild Depression I've been experiencing (more on the Clinic later). Papa Bear and I FINALLY had our Belly Cast Date. I did a horrible job hand-sewing a sheet for the cradle (at least one is finished).

The Butterfly Mobile I've been working on is also finished. I'm not happy with it; it didn't turn out the way I envisioned. But, the Butterflies flutter around nicely when the window is open or the fan is on. I think the baby will be intrigued.

I sent out information for our Meal Train. We'll see how that works out.

My Mama came for a brief visit (and to pick up my child for the Week-end) and she hung my two driftwood shelves, as well as my husband and my Wedding Certificate. The house is feeling more like a little Nest.







I've been preparing my body for Labor by taking "Evening Primrose Oil" three times a day orally and once before bed-time as a vaginal suppository. Also, eating way more than 6 Dates a day (they are so amazingly good).

Things I still have to do: sew my Belly-Binder, figure out a plan for my Placenta, fill out more of my Pregnancy Journal, order Birth Announcements (and fill out addresses now), finish re-potting my container plants, make a Compost Bin out of pallets, pick up all the books I ordered from the library (for my Cocoon Time), finish listening to my last Cocoon Time audio-class, work more on transforming the Back-yard into an interesting Play-scape for Nye-Nye and finish embroidering some of the New Baby's clothes. Oh, yeah...and solidify the top Contenders for the New Baby's Name.

If none of this gets done, it's fine (except the name part). It's just nice to have a list of things to do to keep myself occupied during this Waiting Time. Enjoy your Week-end!!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea During Pregnancy and Beyond











"Red Raspberry Leaf Tea" is a wonderful tonic for women during Pregnancy and afterwards. Besides having drunk it daily for my last two trimesters, I will continue to drink it religiously during the first day or two of my period (when it returns). It's a life-saver with Menstrual Cramps.

A few years back, when I was subbing at my local Baltimore City school, one of the teacher assistants was having awful cramps. I lived half a mile away, so during my lunch break I went home and brewed up Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. She drank it and later asked me what was in it, her pain stopped so quickly.

Infusions are different than brewing up a cup of tea. The magic number is 7. If you are using tea bags, the ratio should be 7 teabags to 1 cup of water.

If I don't grow the herb, I usually buy it from Mountain Rose Herbs. They come in plastic bags, so I generally store them in mason jars or other glass jars.


How to Make an Infusion with Leaves....

1. Take two handfuls of cut-up leaves or three handfuls of whole leaves.

2. Put in large glass jar.

3. Fill to top with boiling water.

4. Put lid on
.
5. Steep for four hours or overnight in the fridge.

6. Pour into a mug, using a tea stainer to catch any loose leaves.

***I reuse the leaves 2-3 times by just filling up the jar again with boiling water.



Another method is to put several handfuls in a clean towel, tie up the towel with a string or rubber band and steep it in a large stock pot. (The first photo illustrates what I mean).

I've been using this method for last few weeks, since I have been going through so much tea. I've even frozen several OJ bottles full to drink during Labor. (See my second photo). Once it becomes obvious that THIS IS IT, we'll take out the bottles and run them under hot water to defrost them before we leave.

Can you tell I love my Red Raspberry Leaf Tea?


According to Susun Weed (herbalist extraordinaire and writer of the book Herbal for the Childbearing Year )....

Rubus is the best known, most widely used, and safest of all uterine/pregnancy tonic herbs. It contains fragine, an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself. Most of the benefits ascribed to regular use of Raspberry leaf tea throughout the pregnancy can be traced to the strengthening power of fragine or to the nourishing power of the vitamins and minerals found in this plant.

She lists the following; vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, iron, vitamin A and B complex, phosphorous and potassium. That sounds like an awful lot of goodness, doesn't it?


**** A Reminder, please check with your Doc first and get the okay, okay?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My Simple List of Newborn Clothes Essentials

 
 

I am trying to simplify my life this go-around. We had WAY TOO MUCH baby clothes for my first child. It was stressful opening up the drawers and seeing all these clothes that she was never wearing (there was plenty of items that she only wore once and some things she NEVER ended up wearing).

Between me going crazy at year-sales (before I knew if I was going to have a boy or girl) and all of our generous friends and families there were lots of clothes I wasn't crazy about and I felt guilty each time I opened her clothes drawer. (Don't start me on the color pink).

This time I am simplifying things by only have out things that I really like.


 
 
 
 



Here is my list...


  • 5 sleepers (Nye-Nye was swaddled at night for the first 13 weeks, so she didn't even use her sleepers except for a handful of times, but I'm keeping these out in case this baby doesn't want to be swaddled)

  • 2 pairs of fleece booties (I am awful at keeping track of socks and don't like the struggle of keeping socks on babies and these booties make socks unnecessary...win/win)

  • 5 pairs of Babylegs (including  2 pairs specifically made for newborns)

  • 4 receiving blankets (don't ever buy them before a baby is born because people LOVE giving you blankets)

  • 2 blankets for the car-seat

  • 5 swaddling blankets (Miracle Blankets are just that....miracles for new parents...very easy to use with no velcro or snaps to wake up baby....LOVE THEM)

  • 4 onesies (personally, I am not a fan of onesies and those snaps, especially since we will be cloth diapering and have all these cute covers that I hate to hide)

  • 10 tops (I much prefer kimono shirts and T-shirts over onesies)

  • 2 sun-hats (Urban Baby Bonnets make the most adorable hats for babies)

  • 3 dresses

  • 2 sweaters

  • 1 pair of pants (not necessary for a late Spring/early Summer baby, but I could resist putting a butterfly patch on the knees of a pair, so the new baby will have 1 pair out)




There is our list. I am already exhaling in relief at not being over-whelmed by too much clothes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Soups to Freeze. A Simple Chicken and Barley Soup Recipe from GW Midwives



Here is an easy Chicken Soup Recipe from the GW Midwives.

This is a perfect soup to make for your Coccon Time. This also might be a nice, beginning stage of Labor activity to keep you busy and occupied.

The GW Midwives recommend that several bowls of this soup are given to the New Mama, during those first few days. They didn't include any times or many specifics.

I just eye-balled everything. The bowl I taste-tested was wonderful. Let me tell you...homemade chicken stock is SOOOO much better than the store bought (this was the first time I have ever made my own chicken stock). I was surprised how much salt I had to add, but I guess it's because the barley soaks it all up. I made two large pots to freeze and am excited to get the chance to eat all that yummy soup! 



1. Roast a whole chicken with herbs and seasoning (or buy one already roasted...we got ours at a Peruvian Chicken joint)

2. Remove all the meat (that was my husband's job)

3. Boil the bones and skins covered to make a good strong broth (I boiled them about an hour)

4. Chop up and put back the meat (also Papa Bear's job)

5. Add lots of sea salt
 
6. Add cooked barley (I added uncooked barley to the Chicken Stock and a few cups of extra water)

7. Add veggies like carrots, zucchini, squash and cook till soft (I just added carrots and cooked on medium heat for about an hour)

8. Add fresh chopped parsley

9. Add a big bag of baby spinach (I will add the spinach when I reheat to eat)

10. Crack in several eggs (I will add the spinach when I reheat to eat)

11. Enjoy (or freeze)!




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Friday, April 12, 2013

Simplicity. Throw Out the Baby Bath-tub and Take a Bath with Your Babe

 
 
One of my few luxuries during the first few months of becoming a Mother (the first time around) was soaking in our bath-tub. I'd take a book, shut the door and have a baby-free hour. When I was satisfied and looked like a prune, I'd call in my husband and he'd bring in the baby. He would put her in the bath-tub with me and we would soap her up.
 
It was easy breezy. No bending over a big tub, no having to empty or store a baby bath-tub, no having to do the dishes in order to clean the baby! Some of my sweetest memories from her first months are from our bath time. I highly recommend it!

The photo is one I took of my mother's bathroom. I adore claw-foot bath tubs, aren't they amazing?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Purple Line. A Simple Way to Check Cervical Dilatation During Labor.

I recently read a Birth Story which mentioned the Purple Line. Purple Line? I am fairly well-read when it comes to Childbirth and I had never came across a reference to the "Purple Line" before.

Turns out the Purple Line is a red, purple or dark line that slowly appears between a Laboring Mama's butt cleavage as the baby's head descends and the intrapelvic pressure increases. It's like thermometer.

The line first starts at the anus and when it has climbed all the way to the top of natal cleft (aka the top of a woman's butt cleavage), the woman should be fully dilated and about to enter the 2nd Stage of Labor.

It doesn't show up on all women (it doesn't appear in about 10% of women). But, it's pretty cool, eh?

Here is a terrific article citing several studies (check out the photo of what the Purple Line can look like).

A British study of 144 laboring women concluded that "the purple line does exist and there is a medium positive correlation between its length and both cervical dilatation and station of the fetal head. Where the line is present, it may provide a useful guide for clinicians of labour progress along side other measures. Further research is required to assess whether measurement of the line is acceptable to women in labour and also clinicians."

This is great news for women who want to avoid unnecessary vaginal exams while in Labor. They are not fun, let me tell you. This is also especially important for women who experience Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM), where vaginal exams can cause serious infections.

Talk to your Provider and see if they have heard of this phenomenon. Show them the studies in the Science and Sensibility article and the British study. It could help make things slightly less uncomfortable during your Labor. Please, spread the word.

Isn't the human body amazing?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Toddler's Mud Kitchen in 5 Minutes

 

 
 



This Mud Kitchen won't win any awards in the Pretty Department. But, boy, did my child have fun. This was way back in February, one warmish Winter Day.



 

It took me less than 5 minutes to grab some items from the kitchen and around the house, grab an empty bin, some milk crates, a few water jugs and a pot full of potting soil. A much more permanent and attractive Mud Kitchen is in the works, but she had loads of fun with this simple one.



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Growing Power's Will Allen is Coming to Frederick On April 11th

Hoop Houses on Raised Beds
Hoop Houses on Raised Beds (Photo credit: Chiot's Run)
I wrote about Growing Power, way back in January of this year. Growing Power is a 3 acre farm in the middle of Milwaukee that has grown 1 million pounds of organic food using Hoop Houses and a Aquaponics system.

The founder of the organization, Will Allen, is coming to Frederick, MD. He will be giving two free talks on April 11th.

Frederick Reads is sponsoring both readings. The first one will be at FCC at 11 am and the second will be at 7 pm at the Weinberg Center. Two chances to meet this inspirational man who is changing the way we think about Urban Farming. Mark your calendars!


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Monday, April 8, 2013

My Post-Partum Physical Self-Care Check List





This is the Check-List my husband and I will be using to make sure I am taking care of myself during those first days and first weeks of recovery. It may seem like it's over-kill, but I had a very rough recovery after my first baby. I want to do everything I can to take care of myself and prevent any long-term issues.

It's a lot of tasks, but it seems less daunting when they are organized by the 5 B's....Belly, Bladder, Bottom, Breast and Bleeding. Got it? Okay, here goes...


Belly
  • Breathing exercises (spend 5 minutes a day doing Mindful Breathing Exercises)
  • Belly-binding on after each run to the bathroom begun after 24 hours
  • Either an Oil Massage or Belly Herbal Paste put on after each bathroom run
  • Crampbark and Motherwort tincture for after-birth cramping pains (supposedly after-birth pains are much, much more noticeable and painful your second Birth)
  • Heated Rice Pack on Belly when needed
  • Gentle Ab work-out beginning at day 3
  • Post-Partum Full Body Massage at day 3 or 4 (these were the worst two days for me...pain-wise and as well as emotionally, so a Massage is a MUST on one of these days)
  • Mother Roasting with moxibustion at day 4 or 5

Bladder

  • Go to the bathroom regularly (after each time I nurse...I need to drink a glass of water or Herbal Tea and ask myself if I have to pee)
  • Peri Bottle full of Herbal Tea spritzed every time I go to the Bathroom
  • Kegels

Bottom

  • Senna Tea
  • Herbal Sitz Bath several times a day
  • Sitting on a donut pillow
  • Using witch hazel pads pressed against my perineum when making a bowel movement
  • Homepathic Arnica pills every few hours for 1st several days to help with perineal pain (still skeptical about how helpful they can be, but it's worth a try)

Breast

  • Drink 1 glass of water or Red Raspberry Leaf  with Nettle and Comfrey (for help with swelling and/ or tears) every time I nurse
  • Drink Milk Makin Tea, if supply is low (I had the opposite issue the last time, so I doubt this will be a problem...but it's better to be prepared)
  • Milk Makin Cookies
  • Warm Shower when engorged
  • Cabbage leaves in bra when engorged
  • Healing Nipple Salve (Comfrey Root, Yarrow Leaf, Calendula Flower, Elder Flower)
  • Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington Phone # Ready (for home Lactation Consultant visit, if necessary)
  • Breastfeeding Made Simple on my book-shelf

Bleeding

  • Super Absorbent Maxi Pads
  • Rule about number of Steps (going up or down steps once on Day 1, twice on Day 2, three times on Day 3, etc...)
  • Pay attention to the amount I'm bleeding
  • Call Midwife if flow is increasing rather than decreasing, I have a temperature of 100 degrees, the smell is off, or I am passing clots bigger than a golf-ball
  • Shepherd's Purse Tincture to help slow bleeding
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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Round-up of the Birthing Month

 


I guess I lucked out that my Monthly Theme of Birthing fell right before I am due to give Birth to my second child. Writing posts for March was a cinch, since Birth is obviously on my mind right now.

Once this new baby comes, my posts on Pregnancy and Birthing will definitely slow down (a relief I am sure for those of you who have no interest in such topics). But, you will always be able to find tons of information I've shared on my Pregnant Mamas Page.

If you missed any of my posts in March, here is a quick run-down...


Second Birthday Present: Sandpaper Letters

Happy Second Birthday, Nye-Nye!







 



 




 
 
 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Don't Forget to Stock Your Senna Tea, Pregnant Mamas!

Tea Senna
Tea Senna (Photo credit: dinesh_valke)
I don't think I had ever heard about what a big deal it is for a woman to have her first bowel movement after having given Birth, until a few months before I had my first child.

Whoa.

I ended up with a 3 1/2 degree tear and a deep fear of  "my first time." I greedily popped every laxative I was given and mentally tried to prepare myself.

I was FREAKED OUT.

My Mama had kindly paid for a Post-Partum Doula to come to the Ronald McDonald House (where we were staying while Nye-Nye was in the NICU). Besides being a Post-Partum Doula, she was a Massage Therapist and knew quite a bit about Herbs. We chatted about Herbs and then she presented me with some Senna Tea.

Senna is a natural laxative and is a perfect tea for brand-new Mamas to drink those first couple of days Post-Partum.

It is NOT recommended during Pregnancy. You should talk to your Doctor before drinking Senna Tea for longer than a week. (I think I drank it religiously for about 4, maybe 5 days tops).

Traditional Medicine makes a lovely Senna Tea blend called "Smooth Chocolate Move" which actually has a very pleasant taste (ingredients also include: roasted Breadnut seed, Organic licorice root, Cocoa seed dry extract and roasted Organic carob pod).

I am happy to report that between the Senna Tea and the laxatives I was given - it didn't end up being as dreadful as I imagined. If you are pregnant, I would certainly recommend having some Senna Tea on hand, waiting for you. I already have mine ready. Good-luck! Wishing you a relaxed and easy "first-time."




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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cooking in the Kitchen with a Toddler: Slicing Eggs and Onions



Two is such a great age. My daughter LOVES to help prepare meals. Every time she sees someone cooking, she runs over to the nearest chair and drags it across the floor, "Me, help. Me, help."

She especially loves to help her Grand-mother (Ra-Ra). I think it's incredibly important to give children tons of opportunity to help in the Kitchen. It doesn't have to be an elaborate set-up. It can be quite simple. Here is a short video of my daughter cutting onions with a butter knife. The second video is of her helping slice eggs (with supervision)...



 
 
 

 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Welcome Simplicity Month




It's that time aleady. Time to start a new Monthly Theme. Welcome, Simplicity...glad to see you!

This Month I will be sharing my list of simple Newborn Essentials, how to make your own chalk paint, a Grocery Delivery Service that specializes in Local Food, a basic Chicken-Soup recipe (perfect for Brand New Mamas), how to make a Toddler's Mud Kitchen in 5 Minutes, the power of Senna Tea, and a few Toddler Art Activities among other things.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My Birth Plan


 

I am very confident that my wishes will be respected with the Midwives I have chosen. I sought out my Providers based on their similar philosophies about Birthing and medical interventions. I have total faith in them.

BUT, having had a Home Birth that ended up with both of us transferred to the Hospital, I totally get how unpredictable Childbirth can be and the importance of being flexible (and having your Hospital Bag packed, even if you are planning a Home Birth). My Midwives have required me to submit my Birth Plan next week.

I'm not stressing too much over it. But, I thought I would share my Birth Plan with you, especially for those first-time Mama's out there who may be confused as to what one might put on a Birth Plan. One tip I received was to keep it short and succinct.

My Birth Plan with my first child, did not mention my wishes in regard to the possibility of having a C-section. I have been coming across numerous mentions recently about the rise of the "family-oriented C-section" or a "gentle C-section." I think it is imperative for Mamas to include very specific wishes about having a C-section, particularly, if you are first-time Mama giving birth in a Hospital.

In Northern Virginia the C-Section rates at all the Hospitals (excluding Loudoun) hover around 40%. In 2010, INOVA Alexandria's C-Section rate was 38%, Fair Oaks was 38.1%, Fairfax was 41%, VA Hospital Center was 40.5%. Loudoun's was 29.4%, thanks to the Loudoun Community Midwives who work out of the Birthing Inn at the Hospital.

The Unnecesarean is doing great work pressuring Hospitals to be more open about their C-Sections rates. Educate yourself, know your options!!!

Here is my example of a Birth Plan....

My Birth Plan

We would like an unmedicated, vaginal birth. We would like for my labor to progress as naturally as possible as long as there are no health problems for Mother and Baby.

With this in mind we request the following:

  • No offering of drugs
  • Intermittent, external fetal monitoring (10-15 minutes an hour)
  • Minimal Vaginal Examinations (use of other protocols to determine dilation…i.e. the Purple Line)
  • No IV (Saline Lock if needed)
  • Unrestricted mobility including use of shower and/or tub
  • Various labor positions
  • No episiotomy
  • Breastfeeding and Baby on Chest Immediately
  • Delayed Cord Clamping
  • Routine Procedures delayed for the first hour
  • No formula, pacifiers or glucose

 

If  we have agreed that a C-Section is medically needed, we request the following procedures in order to have a “gentle” or “family-oriented” C-section:

 
  • immediate skin-to-skin contact in the operating room
  • slow delivery (with the intent to mimic the “vaginal squeeze”)
  • placement  of IV catheter, oximeter and blood cuff all on the same non-dominant arm (the left arm) to allow a completely free arm for maternal contact with baby
  • placement of ECG leads on the back, to allow a free chest for early maternal skin-to-skin contact
  • intraoperative breastfeeding

 
We would like the following people to be present during my labor: my husband, my Doula (Birth Assistant) and my Birth Photographer.

We realize that events may arise that require medical intervention. In such case, our full cooperation will be given after an informed discussion of all risks and benefits has taken place.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Nye-Nye's 2nd Birthday Party with an Easter Twist

 
 
 
Surrounded by lots of Love and lots of Family (and a little bit of rain), my daughter celebrated her 2nd Birthday. It was simple and sweet (although not without some anxiety before-hand).
 
We decided to combine the two events because of scheduling issues, which meant my Mama hosted the largest Easter Celebration she had ever hosted (37 or was it 39 people...of JUST family). We kept hoping for a beautiful day, but dealt with the sprinkling of rain we got.
 
The kids had their Easter Egg Hunt and we all filled our bellies with a terrific meal (thanks to Papa Bear, my Mama, My Mother-in-law, Neal Uncle, Aunt Mimi and Rita Auntie).
 
The house felt like it was bursting with Love. I love the video I shot of all the happy, loud chaos. It was a good day. I am so grateful.
 

 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 




 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 

 


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