Monday, May 28, 2012

Finding a Passion

I haven't always been an over-the-top birth junkie. There was, in fact, a time in which I was quite normal and in which childbirth was just vaguely interesting to me.

When I was a child, actually, I wanted to be a veterinarian. This was not, I realized later, because I had any deep interest in healing sick and injured animals - it was just a love-affair (still ongoing!) with the wonderful and amazing works of British country vet James Herriot (if you haven't read these - go get them now!). Though, looking back, I now see that all of the chapters that fascinated me most were those dealing with any obstetrical situations - foalings, calvings, farrowings, etc. An interesting glimpse into the future, for sure, though I misinterpreted it at the time.

I spent various time throughout high school and college flirting with various lines of study - environmental science, biology, music, and patisserie - but I cannot say that I had a passion for any of them, a passion being defined as "anything that I want to spend masses of time studying voluntarily, apart from required assignments." So when I got married, I was glad to leave all of that behind. I have always loved being a homemaker anyhow, with or without kids (I love developing and practicing the arts of homemaking!), so there was no love lost when I left my studies behind.

But when we had our first child, all of that changed. During our pregnancy, I borrowed almost all of my midwife's lending library of books and videos, and I read voraciously. About a year after our baby's birth, I was still borrowing books and reading at least three at a time - and then, suddenly, I realized that I didn't just want to read "expecting parents" books. I wanted to read midwifery textbooks. And furthermore, I wanted to study it seriously! Around the clock! I couldn't get enough of it.

And so, another birth junkie was born! Several months later I attended my first birth conference, given by my second-midwife-to-be (where I got to hear Henci Goer and talk with Laura Shanley), and a few months later my birth blog was born. I was off and running.

At that time, I assumed that I would follow the standard pattern of birth junkie-ism: I would start a birth blog (done!), then train and work as a birth doula, and then eventually apprentice as a homebirth midwife. It looked like a fairly straight path. The fact that I had little to no time to work as a doula or midwife did occur to me, but I figured that that would work itself out. (I know that many moms work as doulas or midwives, but I am not good at multi-tasking like that - but at the time I figured that I would learn to love it.) There was also the slight fact that I am not a good people person and have few to none of the personality traits that make good doulas or midwives - but I figured that that too would work out. This was the standard path, after all! It would just have to work out.

But several factors intervened.

Firstly, our son turned one. And the terrible twos hit. (I don't know what this thing is about the "terrible twos" - it's really the "terrible ones through fours"). And it hit me smack in the middle of the eyes that I needed to get my head OUT of the birth world and into the world of hard-core parenting, where I desperately needed prayer, study, mentoring, and hard work (and still do). And so I made a hard decision - to deliberately neglect my birth-book habit of reading and read parenting books instead. This is something I still do - in fact, I have about five parenting books going right now ("Raising Real Men" - "Raising Godly Tomatoes" - "A Survivor's Guide to Homeschooling" - "Shepherding a Child's Heart" - "A Mom Just Like You" -  "The Five Love Languages of Children" - "The Key to Your Child's Heart"). And I actually haven't read more than one or two birth books in the past couple of years. This was a major change for me, and a very positive one. I needed to change my focus, and I needed the help of godly parents who had gone before me. For this reason I am also very thankful to be surrounded by so many godly older moms at my church, who have done an awesome job raising their little ones and are now a wonderful resource for me as a younger and struggling mother.

Secondly, our other two little ones came along, meaning two more rough pregnancies and life adjustments.

Thirdly, we began to homeschool - which meant even less time for blogging or thinking of other things to do with my non-existent spare time.

But over the past couple of years, the question has continually come up - "I'm a birth junkie... I need to do something with this passion. What can I do? What can I do?"

And in His own good way, God has given me answers and put that question to rest for now.

Firstly, a little over a year ago, I had the opportunity to take a great weekend doula training in Phoenix. I thoroughly enjoyed the training (it's fun! do one!), but most importantly, it revealed quite clearly one important fact - I am not made to be a doula. I had always suspected that I would be a rotten doula, but the fact came home to me very solidly when the midwife teaching the training assigned the class to take turns giving each other massages (a classic doula technique). My reaction was something along the lines of, "Oh, my goodness. Gross. No. Please, no." And thankfully my baby, who was with me, generously and kindly decided to scream during that part of the session, giving me a very thankful and graceful exit. But I realized that someone like me, who has definite issues with touching people should not be a birth doula!

That was a wonderful realization, and it gave me a lot of peace. I had had it in my mind that I should work as a doula, regardless of whether or not I wanted to - because that's just what birth junkies do! But it has been made quite clear to me that I would not make a good doula, nor would I enjoy the work. God may develop me over the years into someone who would make a good doula - or midwife, as the same issues apply - but it is not for now.

Secondly, I have realized that my calling is 100% at home. Right now, with three children - and the possibility of more - plus a home and a homeschool, I have absolutely zero time for outside hobbies as large as any type of birth work. I would have to seriously neglect some aspect of my home or family (or personal sanity) in order to pursue any type of birth work, and there is no need for that (not to mention the fact that it would harm my family). And God has given me perfect peace about that.

As a matter of fact, I have absolutely no idea what type of birth work I would choose to do were I at a place to pursue a job or a career. I do not have the characteristics needed to work as - or to enjoy work as - a doula, a midwife, a lactation consultant, or a childbirth educator. Nursing sounds fun, but there's the slight issue of my fainting at the sight of needles - and of having to obey orders from doctors that go against every rule of medical ethics and good medicine in the L&D ward (L&D nurses that I know tell me that this is an incredibly stressful part of their jobs).

But, as I mentioned, right now, the question is closed. I am a worker-at-home, a homeschool teacher, and a wife and mother. Unless God specifically calls our family to another plan, this is my calling for now and - most likely - for many, many more years to come. Thankfully, after many years of questioning, praying, wondering, and researching, I am completely at peace with leaving my ambitions as a birth worker (of whatever type) alone and just proceeding as a homemaker who does a wee bit of birth blogging as recreation. That is God's plan, and it is good.

And later.... who knows? The possibilities are endless. But I shall leave that with God, and for the future. For now, it's one less thing to worry about - and that is a blessing.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Homeschooling, the First Year: Non-Textbook Learning

(Go to first article in this series...)

I am writing this post with a sigh. A big one. You know why? Because I love textbooks. I love textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, to-do lists, and anything else that is nice and boxed-in and orderly.

But I am learning that, oftentimes, there are more effective ways for children to learn.

Dang it. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I am still planning to use textbooks, especially for math and language arts. And we'll probably use a lot of textbooks - especially since we have too many children to live in a perpetual ecstasy of unschooling self-discovery (which would be sheer torture for me, anyhow).

But I have learned that there are ways in which knowledge seems to flow magically into our son's mind... practically without any effort on my part. And I would be foolish not to take advantage of that, regardless of how many textbooks we end up using.

And so, without further ado, here are some methods of non-textbook/workbook learning that I have noticed this year:

Reading Aloud

One of my (extremely-insanely-successful) graduated-homeschool-mom friends told me that, in the early years, all that one needed to homeschool was a Bible, a math textbook, and a library card. I hate to admit it, but she's right. Reading aloud is an absolutely amazing education in itself! Just from reading library books, we have covered hundreds of subjects in an informal, enjoyable, memorable manner. Canons, space travel, the westward move, various animals, ships, the Pilgrims, the Christmas story - anything and everything!

Right now I max out our library cards every week ordering books from "Books Children Love," "Honey for a Child's Heart," "The Read-Aloud Handbook" (our favorite), and various online lists. Our library website also has a function called "find more books by this author," so we are able to find authors that we love and order all of their books. Since we order all books online, there is little to no search time, and we just go once a week to pick up our orders.

I am also starting a "good books" list by grouped age level so that when our next child reaches the current age of our eldest, I will have all the research done already rather than having to research two grade levels. Unfortunately, I only started that a few weeks ago, so I missed a lot.

As our son becomes a proficient reader, I know that reading on his own will be added to read-alouds, and that will be an awesome source of learning for him.

Following Interests

Earlier this year, our son evinced a passionate interest in volcanoes. So, following my friend's advice, I checked out (over the course of six months or so) every book that our library system had on volcanoes. Later in the year (to the present time) his interest switched to space and space travel - so we now have tens of books in our home on those subjects. Our son has learned a ton - on those subjects and others that the books touch on (robotics! heat and light! velocity! chemistry!), and it is as easy as handing him candy. He wants to learn! It's awesome.

And I should note that we have learned far, far, far more about volcanoes and space travel than I ever learned in all eighteen years of school! (In excruciating detail! Kids love details! Ack!)

On the other hand, a few weeks ago I thought, "Gosh, he's at the right age for dinosaurs. Let's do dinosaurs!" So I got out a few dinosaur books and tried - vainly - to interest him in them. No dice. They went back to the library untouched. And that's okay. There are things that sometimes have to be learned, regardless, but this is an area in which following a child's interest really facilitates real learning without pain.

On another front, our son has recently begun an interest in addition. I have no idea why, as we haven't gotten further in math than "trace the two!" But I am facilitating this in every way I know how, and our home is currently filled with constant addition problems, verbal and written. I'm not complaining!


We Americans (myself included) have an odd ingrained belief that things are only really learned if they are learned through textbook or worksheet. But so many things can just be learned by oral transmission and conversation. Examples? So many - days of the week, months of the year, and various facts about almost everything. Various snippets from today's conversations: Cesarean birth! Bullet calibers! Gun safety rules! King cobras! The dates of various holidays! Counting days till the weekend! Archaeology! Archery! Masses and masses of learning, just through talking. It doesn't all need to be worksheet Q&A.


One word: LEGOs. Plus more: Digging in the dirt. Shooting nerf guns. Walks through the neighborhood. And all the conversation resulting thereof! There is so much learning going on through every day play.

Real Life

Some of the most memorable learning has gone on through real life experiences - and we do tend toward unschooling in that I intentionally try to provide a rich learning environment so that learning can flow naturally from varied experiences. Our summer trips to Flagstaff and Tucson. Our local Jazz Festivals, car shows, Christmas parades, park days, field trips, play dates, trips to National Parks, car rides, visits to family and friends - you name it. Not only do they provide learning opportunities, but they provide the framework for future learning - "Yes, a waterfall - like the one we saw on such-a-such a trip - remember?"

And for the rest?

Well, there's always my (beloved) worksheets. Mmm. Worksheets.

(Go to the next article in this series.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Birth Wishes: How They Came Out!

I wrote this list of birth and pregnancy wishes/goals last July - I thought I would pull them back up and report on how things turned out in the end! I'm leaving the original document intact and adding comments, quote-form italicized.

To feel better soon

I would really like to enjoy this pregnancy, or a majority of it.... So I would love it if the NVP could clear up quickly! Of course, though, I know that I have been blessed beyond measure - NVP but no HG. I'll settle for that if need be. :)
NVP-wise, this was my easiest pregnancy ever, though also my most-puzzling (more later). However, I did feel nauseated till the very end, as usual. But as it never descended into hyperemesis, I won't complain! 

To gain less baby weight

Last time I gained a ton of weight, and almost half of it stayed around after baby and was impossible to get rid of (until I did this recent low carb thing). This time, while not being unhealthy, I want to keep my weight gain in a more reasonable range.
Nope. Gained more. How much more I have no idea, because I stopped weighing myself, but it was quite a bit. However, compared to looking slim and trim with hyperemesis.... I'll take some extra pounds any day!!

Labor with intact membranes, and/or birth en caul

Rumor has it that laboring with intact membranes is much more comfortable, so I'd like to try it! Both of my labors have begun with SROM (spontaneous rupture of membranes), which is handy for timing labor (I know the length of my labors down to the minute) but less comfortable.

It is said that increased vitamin K can help strengthen membranes, so when I'm feeling better, I'm going to try to get back to my green smoothies, which are really high in vitamin K. 

I would also love-love-LOVE a birth en caul, that is, where the baby is born with intact membranes around it. In most traditional cultures there are special traditions and beliefs and blessings surrounding births en caul, and I would love to experience one of those births myself.

You can see some birth en caul pictures here.

I used to think that births en caul were almost impossibly rare, but it turns out that that is not so! They are almost extinct in the hospital environment simply because most doctors insist on rupturing membranes if they have not already released naturally, thus eliminating the possibility of a caul. But the midwives whom I know on Facebook regularly report caul births, so they're not nearly as rare as I once thought (though they are still unusual).
We almost had our caul baby! Membranes broke during second stage (pushing), so only about two minutes - or less - before birth! We were almost there! Maybe next time, assuming there is a next time! 

Make a birth cake

It is common practice for midwives to recommend that mamas - especially first-time mamas - spend their time in early labor making a birthday cake for the baby. It calms nervous energy and gives them something to do, and then the entire birth team can enjoy the cake and celebrate after the birth. Fun!!

I have intended to make a birth cake with both of my births, and failed with each! Both times, labor has grabbed my attention and said "It's time to labor, forget about anything else!" So no birth cake. I'd like to try again.... I'm thinking of mixing up dry ingredients ahead of time so that there wouldn't be too much work to do.
I made my first birth cake!!! So exciting! And how? By making it a good month or two in advance and freezing it!! So much for a labor cake, but it would have been hopeless again - for one thing, labor again claimed my immediate attention, and for another thing labor started in the middle of the night ("How to get the entire household up" - Start banging around in the kitchen at 3:00 a.m.!). But I was so happy that I got this done! Definitely recommend making baby's birth cake in advance!

Maybe another waterbirth

I have had one land birth and one water birth. For labor, water is wonderful-wonderful-WONDERFUL and I will never voluntarily do active labor in any other way!!! For second stage pushing, though, I am okay with land or water. But waterbirths are fun! So it might be fun to have another, even though I'm okay with either one.
Yes, we had our second waterbirth! So happy about that! Love waterbirths!!

Handle labor better, more enjoyably

I guess I'd better just admit it. Though I've had two unmedicated births (and am extremely happy about that!), when it comes to labor, I am just.... bad at it. I've never really gotten the hang of it. All of that "relax, release, deepen" stuff? Well, I'm afraid that my instinctual (and unavoidable) response has been more along the lines of "tighten, tense, panic". I'll never be one of those birthing goddesses that one sees!

But I would like to be able to labor more comfortably. I have wondered if I would benefit from a Brio/Bradley or Hypnobabies course (we took Hypnobirthing with our first, and it did not help). And really, I would love to take one of those classes anyway - I just don't know if I want to (or can!) spend the money. Class costs plus babysitting add up to a considerable price tag! So we'll have to think. I should probably also ask my midwife.
Well.... No. It's time to admit the sad truth - I'm just a labor wimp. I'm afraid I yelled just as much as the first two times - actually, quite a bit more, according to my husband. But I did find the Hypnobabies CD (which I listened to for a month and a half pre-birth) to be very comforting - would definitely do again.

Be able to manage after-pains so as to be able to enjoy first postpartum hour with baby

With both babies, I have had problems with severe afterpains - so severe that I have had to hand the baby off to someone else and just focus on getting through them. Both times I have missed out on bonding/holding time and on the breastfeeding window - that is, the first hour post-birth when baby is awake and alert. After that, they get quite sleepy and initiating breastfeeding is much harder.

With my last birth, I arranged to take four Advil as soon as the baby was born in order to get a head start on the afterpains. That did absolutely nothing for them! Too bad. However, the placenta smoothie that I had a bit later had an amazing effect on afterpains, and with the aid of more placenta medicine my second experience with afterpains, though yucky, was much better than my first. So I already have it written into my birth plan to do a placenta smoothie as soon as is humanly possible, and we'll see what that can do.

If anyone out there is still dry-heaving at the thought of placenta medicine, let me just say - try it before you condemn it, because gosh golly, it WORKS. Amazingly. For postpartum bleeding, for preventing baby blues, for stabilizing emotions, for regaining energy, for afterpains - it truly works. I can't wait to try it again. (And most placenta medicine is encapsulated - that is, the placenta is dried and put into gel caps, so the gross factor is really reduced.)
IT WORKED!!!! Operation After-Pain Take-Down was a success! Raw placenta medicine, Calcium/magnesium supplement, Advil, Arnica, and an afterpains tincture. I would SO do this again!

Have a better start to breastfeeding

I'm afraid that both of our babies have had absolutely disastrous starts to breastfeeding. I thought it was bad with our first.... until we had our second. Yowzer. I would really like to have a baby who takes easily to the breast and does not give us nightmares with breastfeeding!

On that note, I would like to mention the importance of being surrounded by breast-feeding supportive caregivers! I do not think either of our babies would have survived with an intact breastfeeding relationship had we not been covered on all sides by women (midwives, doulas) cheering us on, plus a breastfeeding supportive pediatrician. I had no idea when I started out that breastfeeding could be such a challenge, or that it could require so much support.
Yes! Yes! Yes! It has been SO nice to get a start to breastfeeding that was normal and not utterly catastrophic in some way or another! I love this!! 

Short Second Stage

Most women love the pushing phase during a birth. They feel that they can get involved and be an active participant rather than a bystander (of sorts). I'm the opposite! I really don't like pushing. First time it was an hour or two, second time was..... oh, 20-30 minutes, not sure. But I would LOVE to have one of those one-or-two push births - that would be lovely!

Again, any ladies out there who have not experienced a birth yet, take heart - as I've said - most women really enjoy the pushing phase.
Oh. my. goodness. Let's just say.... I got what I asked for, and it wasn't pretty! But it was nice to have it over with quickly, even if it did feel like a freight train had taken a detour and was thundering through my body for the most intense three minutes of my life! 

A Butter Birth!

A butter birth is a phrase used by midwives to describe a birth that is quick, easy, and where the baby slips out easily "like butter." I would love one of these! Can I put my order in now, please?
From my perspective - Nope. From my midwife's perspective - Who knows? I'll have to ask her, but I don't think so.

But all in all, it was a great birth. Short, not too-too hard, uncomplicated. What more could I ask for? Thanks for all the support, everyone!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Homeschooling, The First Year: Our Homeschool Charter

This is just a rough draft - and I haven't run it by DH yet - but this is my charter for our homeschool! One homeschooling book I read (no idea which) suggested having a written set of goals for our children, which I thought was an excellent suggestion - and so here is ours!!

You will note that this charter is a compilation of both strictly "educational" goals and "parenting" goals. Since education and parenting are both under the jurisdiction of the homeschool parent, the dividing line between the two is really grey - or not there at all. I haven't included a long list of parenting goals, like obedience, respect for parents, manners, etc. - though I probably should - but there is a lot of overlap. Maybe I'll make a more complete list at a later date.

* Note * - Since we have sorta-kinda-maybe-almost finished our first year of homeschooling, I thought I would write a short series of articles on what I have learned this year. The series will be published on a strict schedule of "whenever I manage to get around to it" and may or may not be a complete flop, or ever happen at all. You've been warned!

And now, for our charter:

I want my children to: 

 - Be raised in a home in which they consistently see God glorified, obeyed, and loved

 - Develop godly character resulting from a well-grounded biblical worldview

- Have a good working knowledge of the Bible and of Christian beliefs and theology

- Have an excellent work ethic

- Read and learn from a large variety and quantity of real books

- Develop excellent reading skills

- Develop excellent writing skills

- Develop excellent thinking and discernment skills

- Be able to discern, with our help, what their gifts and talents are calling them to as life-work, and to develop skills relevant to those gifts and talents

- Love to learn

- Learn how to work well with others, both academically and relationally

 - Develop good work habits

- Know how to work independently

- Develop a heart for service to others

- Have some exposure to the arts (music, theatre, dance, etc.)

- Have a well-rounded education that will enable them to live well, think well, attend college if they wish, or move in the direction of a chosen vocation

- Have basic homemaking skills: Laundry, cooking, cleaning, basic sewing, yard work

- Have basic home-repair skills

- Have exposure to a large amount of real-life experiences:

o Family activities (movie nights, game nights, BBQs, hosting other families, etc.)
o Camping trips
o Travel
o Day trips
o Cultural events (concerts, shows, plays, museums, etc.)

- Participate in a reasonable amount of extracurricular activities (music, sports, clubs, AWANA, Scouting, etc.)

- Have the opportunity to develop positive friendships with adults, peers, and youth of all ages

- Be able to deal with increasing amounts of responsibility as they move toward independence

- Possess a number of life skills, including but not limited to: Wilderness survival, First aid, Personal hygiene, Computer skills, Financial management, Personal safety (strangers, etc.), Child care, Gun safety, How to have quiet time with the Lord, How to turn off the gas, water, and electricity, Emergency skills (fire, flood, earthquake, 911), How to swim, etc.

What other things have you added to your lists, readers?

(Go to next article in this series...)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

For One Week Only!

Today I started a one-week challenge for myself - I am going to try to stick to the Paleo/Primal diet for one week. This is partially for weight loss, but mostly for an energy-level experiment. When I tried the Paleo diet last year, I felt absolutely and unmistakably awesome. I have always had problems with low energy, and while I did this diet my energy levels went through the roof. I want to see if it happens again! So here goes! One day down, six more to go (and more if it works!).

The Paleo Diet, in brief, can be summarized thus:

YES - Fruit, vegetables, nuts, meat

NO - Dairy, grains, legumes, sugar

Pretty simple! I'll report in on how it goes.

Happy Sunday, all!

Tricia's Story: Surviving Severe Hyperemesis

This mama left the link to her story on my blog today, and I spent some time today going through it. One word - WOW. This is possibly the single most well-documented case of hyperemesis that I have ever read, and it is a splendid resource - lots of writing (both at the time and afterwards) and lots and lots of pics. If you need to send an article to someone to explain severe HG, this is it. Please share this around!

My HG Story

One fact that really struck me with this mother's story was the fact that she went from "normal" morning sickness with her first, to severe HG with her second. In what I have experienced and read, most women are either HG or non-HG - the mixing of normal and HG pregnancies is rarer. I do have one friend whose three pregnancies progressed from normal morning sickness to moderate HG to severe HG. Readers, what has been your experience?

Tricia, thank you for sharing! You are a warrior mama!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hyperemesis: Suffering in Pregnancy

I found this awesome article on a blog that I read and adore, Raising Arrows. Check it out!

Suffering in Pregnancy

** NOTE ** - This article deals with abortion, and it also deals with personal decisions that this mother has made regarding family planning. I am not posting this to preach at people - I am posting it because it is a great HG story and a great showcase of how one mother and one family has chosen to deal with this disease.

It is interesting to me that the mother writing this article did not seem to know that she suffered from HG - she just called it "morning sickness." Most HG mothers who have discovered that they suffer from HG write about that discovery in their HG stories - "I got online and discovered.... etc. etc. etc." Several commenters, myself included, left information regarding HG in the comments. I am thrilled about this, as this blog (which I love-love-love!!) is read by many women of childbearing age, and I'm hoping that information regarding HG can reach lots of mamas who might need the information. In fact, one commenter wrote:
"thank you sooo soooo SOOOOOO much for this post! i too go through very hard “morning” sickness. all morning – noon – and night. dehydration, ruptured blood vessels in my throut, weight loss and a deep suicidal depression. i wasn’t as honest with anyone durng my son’s (1st) pregnancy. while pregnat with my daughter (2nd) i sat at least 3 times in my midwives office crying and telling her how strong my “crazy uncontrollable desire to kill myself” was and all she said was “that it would pass”....... after having read this post and the comments that followed i am now encouraged to look in to this HG, share it with my husband and look for another midwife all together.... we both felt very alone and now i feel like perhaps their may be hope."
Information brings hope! Ladies, again, share your stories on the web! The more information out there about HG, the more awareness there will be of this condition (both in the general population and among pregnancy caregivers), and the better chance there will be of mothers getting the help and compassion that they need.

I'd like to bring in some quotes from the article and comment on them, but honestly, I'd be quoting the entire article. This was so helpful to me! I am definitely going to be printing this off and keeping it in my files.

Thanks to the anonymous author for sharing her story!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Various Snippets of Life

Snippets and pictures of our life right now! Forgive me if I don't make any sense - I have "The Grinch" going on next to me, and I tend to lose most brainpower when listening to any worded noise. :)

- Baby Moose, taking his first turn at sitting on my lap while I play the piano! He's in favor of the idea, though his older brother is a little jealous:

- More of Baby Moose - notice the intensely cute chubbiness!! In case anyone is wondering about the crummy photo quality, that's DH's phone - apparently it doesn't take that great of pictures. Too bad!

- It's summer! Meaning that it's time for our uber-high-tech swimming pool to make an appearance!

- Speaking of swimming, I was once again reminded of how much baby weight I have to lose when I found that my swimsuit didn't fit. My maternity swimsuit. *Ahem.*

- We are also thrilled that our cat is doing much better! We had looked up her symptoms on the computer and found that she had every single symptom for early feline diabetes - a very, very BAD diagnosis, as it's usually lethal and/or extremely expensive to treat (the latter leading to the former). However, when we got her to the vet, all blood tests were clear for diabetes! They actually didn't find any firm diagnosis except general indicators for some sort of infection, but she is now on antibiotics and is responding dramatically - almost back to her old self! So glad, as we were rather figuring that by this time we would be kitty-less.

- Speaking of the cat: Remember our next-to-newest family member, the pipe organ? Well, we may have saved it from axe-wielding scrap-lumber seekers, but we haven't saved it from a greater peril... the puking cat. She ruined the finish on the seat before we found her out - the bench is now covered with a towel. She moved to the back - we covered it with a blanket. Now she's chosen the pedals - not sure what to do about that. However, she still remains devoted to her favorite puking site - any personal papers that I am so foolish to leave out on my desk. Isn't she sweet?

- Speaking of REALLY REALLY BIG NEWS - Here is the Chublet, KNEELING and (drum roll, please...) STANDING!!! Add some more exclamation points! We have been waiting nearly three years for this!!

He's not doing it much yet, but he's on his way!

- With the Chublet:

- Our eldest at the Arizona Railway Museum for National Train Day!

Have a great weekend, everyone!!!

HG Blog

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, it was the only HG blog (other than Ashli's blog) that I knew about. Now there are lots! Ladies, bring it on! We need as many internet resources and records as possible for HG mamas to access when they try to find information and help. With that in mind, check out this new HG blog. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day!

The first ever!!

May I then wish you all a very happy "International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness" Day?

Though it really ought to be "nine months" awareness instead of "one day" awareness - can I get an amen?

Let's all adjourn to the bathroom for some commemorative puking!!

Guess Whose Midwife Is Famous?

Mine, of course! She is already famous from her awesome birth blog, but my midwife is now also being featured on "Bring Birth Home" - check out her client's birth story here!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

This Is the Week...

.... for great HG articles! Hop on over to "Knocked Up, Knocked Over" to read her latest HG article, "Hyperemesis Gravidarum: Is it all in our heads?"

The answer, of course, being a big NO!

Thanks, Molly!

Blog Review: "Living With Hyperemesis"

I just got finished reading through the blog "Living With Hyperemesis", which is a woman's diary of her HG journey (and beyond) starting about three years ago. This blog is truly excellent! It's easy to navigate, since it's an HG-only blog (not an HG blog mixed up with a personal blog, like mine is), and she went back and narrated through the weeks that had already happened when she started the blog. This site is an excellent resource, and highly recommended!

The point that stuck out to me most on this blog - It is absolutely critical, essential, vital - that caregivers know how to recognize and treat HG. HG may be awful, but it is usually manageable with competent care - and this mama, like so many others, had a caregiver who couldn't tell the difference between HG and run-of-the-mill morning sickness - and for that incompetence, the mother nearly paid with her life.

Pregnancy and birth care providers, you must know the basics of hyperemesis. Mothers and babies can end up dead or nearly so if you neglect this area of pregnancy care.

Natalie writes, in Week 8:
"I got a young doctor who didn't know much about "morning sickness" so he called another colleague in to discuss what to do. The more experienced doctor explained to me that medication during pregnancy was too dangerous so all I was to do was rest. He signed me off work for a week. 
"I had never heard of "hyperemesis", I knew nothing about sickness during pregnancy, I knew nothing about taking medication during pregnancy and I definately never knew anything about the effects hyperemesis can have on a person emotionally. I left the doctors that day knowing nothing more than I did when I went in."
 In Week 9, still getting sicker, she writes:
"I went back to the doctors on Wednesday. I explained my sickness to the doctor, I explained that I was being sick up to 15 times a day, I explained that I was unable to eat, I wasn't drinking very much, I was passing little urine and every day activities (like having a shower) had become too difficult. This doctor (who obviously has no clue about this illness) told me nothing could be done and refused to even write me a sick line for work!! I was nearly in tears before he gave in and wrote me another line for a week. I couldn't believe how unsympathetic somebody could be. After speaking to this doctor I started thinking this was just normal morning sickness and really believed nothing could be done."
And in Week 10:
"I saw another doctor this week who, again, didn't seem to concerned. I showed him a diary of my sickness (which showed 19-25 episodes of sickness a day over 5 days). He signed me off work for two weeks and sent me away. By now I had just accepted this was normal."
And in Week 11, when she is seriously sick:
"By the time this week came I was unable to eat at all. The smell of the house made me sick, the smell of the dogs made me sick, the smell of another person made me sick and I only had to think about food to make me throw up!!
"The sickness had increased to 30 times a day, I was keeping nothing down although I lived in denial telling myself I was fine. I was so low, I would have done anything to just have a day off being sick. I still felt that nobody understood, I felt angry that people didn't "get it". I was unable to move off the sofa and the only time I got any relief was when I was sleeping.
"I had a basin in my hands every waking second as I didn't have time to get to the toilet. I couldn't control it.
"I felt really down, I didn't care about anything or anyone. I was tired, I struggled to keep my eyes open, I just wanted it all to end - any way possible. By the time Saturday came I was extremely dehydrated (although I didn't know it), I couldn't walk, my hand, arms, and feet were numb, I could feel my eyes rolling about but didn't have the strength to stop it."
And when she was finally hospitalized:
"I struggle to remember the rest of the night, I remember vomiting uncontrolably in the van on the way to Perth, I remember begging for any injection which would stop me being sick, I remember the doctor acting very worried, I remember getting put in the back of an ambulance, I remember lots of injections and blood tests and being asked lots of questions in Ninewells.
"I closed my eyes in hospital and didn't know if I'd wake up but I didn't care as long as the sickness stopped."
Caregivers, this is when mothers die - or choose abortion. And this is totally due to caregiver ignorance. This is totally unacceptable.

In the hospital, the wrote:
"I was desperate to go home but the doctor said I would be in at least another night. She explained that I was very close to losing my life, my body had begun shutting down and my blood had began clotting. She questioned me on how I managed to get in to the state I had, she questioned why no doctor had admitted me or put me on medication before now. Finally, someone understood. She stood in amazement as I told her about my trips to the doctors, how I was told it was ok and sent away each time with a sick line." (emphasis mine)
Did you catch that? Her body had begun shutting down. She and her baby might not have made it if a competent doctor had not finally stopped in.

For pregnancy care providers - I've said it a million times, but it bears repeating. Please do your homework and know how to recognize and treat hyperemesis. Lives hang on that knowledge. Hyperemesis mothers - don't quit until you get the care you need.

Natalie, thank you so much for your blog!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hyperemesis Article

Did you know that May 15th is the first ever Hyperemesis Gravidarum International Awareness Day? I didn't! Thank you to this blogger for raising awareness with this great article!

There's Morning Sickness, and Then There's.....

Check it out and share!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Top Ten Tips" Article

I'm still reading through this blog, and thought I'd post her top ten tips for living through hyperemesis!

My Top 10 Tips if I Had My Time to Do Over Again

This mama dealt with hard-core hyperemesis, and her blog is a fascinating read and great resource. Highly recommended!


One more article to share from today (h/t to the HER Foundation Facebook Group for the article).... I am thrilled to see hyperemesis getting mainstream media air time. Good job!!

The only weird thing from the article was this quote:
"HG goes away after the first trimester for most women, but not Burdett. 'Only about 20% or less will continue to have nausea and vomiting after week 22 or so,' said Robison."
Two statements there, both of them puzzling.

"HG goes away after the first trimester for most women." Exactly where did THAT data come from? Seriously? I have never heard of any HG woman whose hyperemesis miraculously resolved at the end of the first trimester. Anyone? Anyone? And even if someone out there is found whose HG did end with the first trimester, it's a rarity at best. But I've never heard of anyone like that. (Cue a flood of emails from indignant women whose HG did end at 13 weeks. In that case, I'll eat crow!)

And secondly, another statement from left field: "Only 20% or less will continue to have nausea and vomiting after week 22 or so."I hate to be repetitive, but.... Seriously? Most HG mothers have nausea and/or vomiting till the very end - nausea for sure if not vomiting. Even my "mild" HG gives me constant nausea levels till the very end (and then some). Again, are there any HG women out there whose nausea/vomiting stopped absolutely by week 22? For goodness' sake, let me know!

This really makes me wonder about data quality in whatever source the doctor was quoting. Thoughts, anyone???

And now, have a great weekend!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Your Help Needed!

I am re-posting this from my other blog, because this is important stuff. Please check it out, and share!!! Re-posting from a friend's site - please take the time to read and sign and/or take other action. No mother should ever be forced into this position.

"Midwives, doulas, childbirth educators, and the obstetric community:

 My name is Kristina French. I am a DONA certified doula and a Birthing From Within and Lamaze trained childbirth educator practicing in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State for the last five years. I would like to make birth communities aware of an issue that is happening in my hometown and a nurse-in we are having on Monday the 14th because of this issue (see below on how you can help).

Where several years ago, women were routinely excused from jury duty in Benton County of Washington State if they were breastfeeding, in the past year or two that policy has changed. Several area women have reported that they have been unable to be excused or get a long term deferral to a time where they will no longer be exclusively breastfeeding.

 A friend of mine is going through this as we speak. Here is Amanda’s story in her own words:

“I received my first jury summons in my first trimester of pregnancy while on modified bed rest. I replied to the letter, and they granted a deferral. I got my second summons when the baby was less than 2 weeks old. They granted another referral, but only until May (Baby was born at the very end of November). I called and was then told I was out of deferments and had no choice but to go. I explained that I would still be exclusively breastfeeding, and baby would be under six months old. She told me that she was sorry, the issue was out of her control and I had no other options. She told me I have to show up on the day, and speak with the judge, and the judge would ‘likely’ excuse me. I asked if I could bring my infant son with me, since he cannot be away from me. She said no, and if I did I could be charged with contempt. I asked what would happen if I didn’t go; she said I would be charged with a misdemeanor.

 I just received my new summons last week. The baby will be 5 ½ months old on the day I am supposed to report. Even if I were to go in and speak with the judge, it will still take several hours of being away from the baby. He has never had pumped milk, formula, or even a pacifier. He is 100% exclusively breastfed. My body doesn’t respond well to pumping, and I get next to no milk out. He eats every 2 hours, often times more (even at night). That’s way too long for him to go without nursing.

 I am in no way trying to “get out” of anything. I will gladly do my civic duties. I just don’t think it is right to put me in a position to have to choose to do my civic duties, be charged/treated as a criminal OR care for my infant son. I will not be breast feeding forever, and will report for jury duty with bells on when it does not interfere with the well being of my children.”

 As a community, her network of friends have decided to act and support her. While doing research, we learned that 12 states have family friendly jury duty laws. Washington State is not one of them. Family friendly jury duty is about more than breastfeeding. It accommodates not only breastfeeding mothers, but also at-home parents/guardians of young children, caregivers of disabled or elderly relatives, and those who depend upon them.

 Jury duty is a necessary right and privilege in our society. Those tasked with caring for the most vulnerable should not have to choose between the two. 

If you agree, here are ways that you can help:

 1) Please join and share the following Facebook page with all your colleagues and clients/patients: Family Friendly Jury Duty – Washington State -

 2) Read about the laws in Washington State that protect breastfeeding, as well as statements concerning the importance of breastfeeding from professional organizations:

3) At the time Amanda will be reporting for jury duty, we have organized a nurse-in. If you can, come, even if you aren’t currently nursing! But even if you can’t come, please share the event. It is public, and you can invite anyone:

 4) Sign the petition and share it:

 5) Write your Washington State legislator: and the Washington State governor: Thank you so much for making a difference!

Kristina French, CD(DONA) and the Family Friendly Jury Duty in Washington State team

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ready to Read? Not!

I ran across a fascinating blog article a week or so ago, in which the blogger discussed the correlation between a kindergartener's ability to "draw a man" and his "reading readiness." She says:
".... one of the "tests" they gave the kids was exactly what I had learned about in college. It was called "Draw a Man." They gave the kiddos a piece of paper and a pencil or crayon and asked them to draw a man. (or person) Then they repeated that test at the end of the year. Was it an art test? Nope. It's a reading readiness assessment.... What I learned in college certainly held true in that Pre-K classroom. 
"Basically the research shows that how much detail a child puts in their drawing of a person is an indicator of how ready they are to tackle the skill of reading. For example, if a child just has a big face with eyes, nose, and mouth? Not so ready. When they start adding details such as the correct number of fingers, eyebrows, etc....then they are ready. Also, the presence of a "baseline" is an indicator. That is when they draw a "floor" under their person instead of just drawing them floating on the page."
I have always suspected that our son, while ridiculously bright, is not really ready for academia. This has been revealed in a number of ways - his reluctance to write or draw, his disinterest in academic subjects, etc. With that in mind, I was eager to try the test mentioned above!

And so I did. I gave him markers and a piece of paper, and told him to "draw a man." I didn't give any other directions, other than to do his best and to use whatever colors he liked. Here is the result:

This picture was drawn last week - our son's age is about 5y10m.

I think my gut feelings were confirmed! This child is really not reading-ready. Though, I must tell you, I was extremely impressed with this picture. A year ago, it would have been a single line scrawled across the page. His progress has been immense - though needless to say, our son has never been the least interested in drawing!

So, with this in mind, I am continuing on our present trajectory - starting school, but taking things slowly and not stressing (too much) about our progress. We will get there, and I think he is going to be brilliant in some subjects - but the early years are going to be slow going. In all honesty, I think he could easily be a "wait till eight" student.... but my ability to withstand societal pressures is not that strong. We'll just take it slowly and incorporate lots of "life learning" (reading, playing, social activities, LEGOs, etc.).

'Night, all! Have an awesome weekend!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Long-Lost Book Reviews

Have I mentioned yet that I am a procrastinator? No? Well, I'll get to that sometime.

In the meantime, here are the quick-reviews that I meant to publish, oh, two years ago or so, for some books that I got for my birthday way-back-when. Unfortunately, these books were read so long ago that I can hardly remember some of them.... guess I should read them again! But since that will take another few years of procrastination to accomplish, here's my best for now:

"Answering the 8 Cries of the Spirited Child (Strong Children Need Confident Parents)" by David and Claudia Arp

This book is beyond awesome - highly recommended for all parents of "hard" children. If you have one, you know what I mean! Can't recommend this book highly enough.

"We Should Do THIS More Often: A Parents' Guide to Romance, Passion, and Other Pre-child Activities You Vaguely Recall" by Lorilee Craker

From what I remember, this book was hilarious. What it actually said... that, I don't remember so well. Something along the lines of "keep up your marital intimacy after you have kids." I should probably re-read it. I'm sure it was great. Have I mentioned that parenting has apparently caused my brain to collapse into mostly mush?

"Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God" by Voddie Baucham Jr.

We heard this fellow speak at the homeschool convention two years ago, and he totally rocked our world. When I read his book, my world was rocked again. If you haven't read this book yet, read it! I can't wait to read his other books.

* "You've Got to Be Kidding: Real-Life Parenting Advice from a Mom and Dad of Nineteen" by Pat and Ruth Williams

I'm sure this book is great. Really. But it wasn't for me. Firstly, I was disappointed in the "family of nineteen"bit. Being that I am in the midst of raising littles, I was looking for a book on how to survive the early years, with multiple kidlets in diapers, dealing with tantrums and terrible twos, etc. - but found that all but one or two of the kids in this family were adopted as older children. So they didn't even deal with the terrible twos! That was a bit of a let-down. Secondly, I'm sure the advice is good, but it comes across as trite, conventional, and preachy. Annoyingly so. Again, I'm sure it's great - just not for me.

"The Home Team: Spiritual Practices for a Winning Family" by Nate Adams

Another book that I'm sure is great... but I could not get past the first chapter (or even through it) without falling asleep from sheer boredom. I think it was the sports theme - sports can put me to sleep faster than about anything. So definitely give it a try if you're interested - as for me, I finally gave up after five or so tries and donated it to the library.

"Common Sense Parenting: The Essentials of Building a Christian Family" by Kent and Barbara Hughes

Absolutely awesome. So very, very, very good! Buy this book! (And I should go read it again so I can remember what's so awesome about it!!!) Seriously, a great book.

Snippets and Tidbits

Hello, everyone! Happy May!

- Life around here is.... may I say... nuts. Just nuts. Not that anything astounding is going on, just an insane schedule of trying to keep up with being a mum of three. Baby Giles is, as a matter of fact, an amazingly easy baby, and he is fitting into our family beautifully. It's just the rest of life that's crazy!

- Speaking of Giles, I am sad to say that we have apparently burdened the poor child with a name that no one either knows or knows how to pronounce (with the pronunciation we've chosen, that is). When we say his name, people inevitably say, "Um, what?" And here I thought that we'd chosen a name that was "rare but known," like Walter or Mildred. Nope! Rare and unknown. Ah, well.

- We have a new pediatrician! Wonderful! It's taken a long time, but I think we've found our man. And this means going back to those nuisance-and-a-half baby visits, but I'll put up with it - I do NOT like well-baby or well-child visits, but they're worth it (I guess) to maintain a good relationship with a pediatrician. So we'll see!

- Pic from a recent birthday party:

- Baby Moose (yes, he has a nickname at long last!) - taken sometime last month. He's a total chubster and extremely adorable, but I can't find a more recent pic:

- With his new obsession, the dragonfly toy (he even sleeps with it sticking out of his mouth):

- Together again - the newest and the eldest:

- Easter Pics (better late than never!):

Did I mention how absolutely insane our Easter was? We did an Easter egg hunt with our MOMS Club, made Jello eggs, boiled and dyed Easter eggs, did an egg hunt, did Benjamin's Box, did Easter breakfast with our church, plus a sunrise service that DH helped with, Easter at church and Easter dinner. And some other stuff I've totally forgotten by now! We were too exhausted to go find a church that had a Good Friday service (one of the only things lacking in our church is a Good Friday service.... *hint*hint*hint*). In all honesty, I was so glad when it was over. Not that it wasn't fun! It was - just exhausting.

- I have joined - and am having a lovely time with - a Christian homeschool group in our town. So far we've been to two park days and one field trip (to the recycling plant). I am really relieved - it is clear that our days with the MOMS Club are numbered, simply because our eldest is a good two years older than most of the kids in the MOMS Club, and this group is perfect for us.

- Remember our latest family member, the pipe organ? I had been feeling rather guilty about it after hearing that another family had wanted it.... until I learned that they wanted it so that they could hack it into pieces for scrap lumber! Ack! Guilt-ridden no more.

- We're going to the homeschool convention! So excited!!! It was an awesome experience when we went two years ago. We'll have baby in tow, so hopefully it will work smoothly.

- I finally made it to Goodwill to find some "in between" clothes... thank goodness! I have a good thirty pounds to lose, though, and I need to get on that. I usually manage to stay fairly average-weight, but the bad news is that when I do gain weight, I find it almost impossible to lose. Bummer.

- After last week's new water heater.... This week it was the garage door! Things come in threes, don't they? So.... what's next?

Well, I have tons more to write - but also a cranky baby in the next room! So - later, folks! More next time!

Various Suggested Helps for HG

A friend of mine this morning posted a Facebook link to an HG mother's request for advice. I thought I would take brief notes on the responses! Some were the inevitable "ginger and crackers," but most looked like they were coming from mothers who truly knew what they were talking about (i.e. other HG mothers).

Here are some of the suggestions:

- High-protein snacks, like almonds

- Zofran

- Peppermint tea

- Eating something every 10 to 15 minutes

- Diclectin - replica (U.S.) or the real thing (Canada)

- Caffeine-free coca cola, taken by the spoonful

- Cold foods and cold drinks

- Eating things that aren't bad to throw up later (bananas, etc.)

- Chamomile essential oils

- Acupuncture and acupressure

- Non-water fluids, and making sure to keep hydrated

- B-complex (P5P) and zinc supplements

- Vitamin B shots

- Ginger

- Medical cannabis

- Reflexology

- Hypnosis

- Nux vomica

- Aromatherapy

- Sour foods, like sour patches - "the brain has a hard time processing sour and nausea at the same time"


Thoughts, anyone?