Monday, October 31, 2011

Science Experiment

I've decided to do a follow-up study to R Soussignan's discoveries regarding how smiling causes an uplift in mood.

Having further meditated on my dissatisfaction with my recent photos (see my last post), I think I also find that I don't look happy enough in pictures. When not posed, candid shots have recently found me with some pretty unpleasant expressions - revulsion, disdain, annoyance. I don't associate those emotions with myself, and feel my photos should not reflect feelings I don't think I feel. I want the photos to reflect to reflect my inner peace, unfortunately that may already be the case.

Back to my cunning plan; Instead of spending endless hours in therapy or meditation, I think I have a quick fix to some of my internal turmoil woes. I have been reflecting on the nature of the body and emotions. I believe it to be a two way street. Not only will I try to smile more - I'll channel that Buddha half smile at all time - I will release the tension from my shoulders.

While getting a massage a few years back the therapist told me that she has be trying to get my shoulders to relax and move away from my ears. According to her, every time she pushed my shoulders down, they popped right back up again. I thought it odd and now, I am SO much more tranquil and told the story to my massage therapist last week. She confirmed that my shoulders still like to creep up to my ears.

So, I've decided to spend a week or two consciously putting more space between the ears and shoulders. I expect this to impact my mood. No more sourpuss photos - just beauty and joy. Much cheaper than a face lift and less effort than finding zen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Right before I went on my first jog in 2 weeks I took a look at the photos that Marc had uploaded of our trips to England, Italy and Napa. I really didn't enjoy seeing myself. I recall thinking that I was photogenic when I was younger - even into my mid-20's. But now, in my mid-30's, I feel like every photo catches me at a bad angle.

As I pumped my arms and pushed through that 3rd mile at my 11 minute/mile pace. I envisioned myself thinner. What would I look like 40 lbs lighter? I haven't weighed that little since middle school. Would the loss of those pounds suddenly make me look like a celebrity? Would it fix mt stray hairs? Improve my make-up & wardrobe choices?

Coming down the final stretch, I realized that I might be looking for something in the photos that isn't there - the me of 10 years ago. I get compliments about my appearance, so I can't be as ugly as I see myself. And it dawned on me, the photos might look like a woman in her 30's rather than in her 20's. Not much I can do about that.

Not much chance that I'll get those extra 40 lbs off in the next year. I'm hoping to be pregnant in another 3 months and Marc doesn't let me diet when pregnant or nursing - something about not starving the baby. Maybe by the time I'm 40 I'll have the body I did when I was 15.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I put off parenthood for a long time. Aside from the standard need to get established in the world, followed by finding the right person to breed with, there exists other internal resistance to parenthood. However, the desire for something new breached the egocentric levee with no dutch boy to plug the dyke.

Having a baby stretches my ego the same way a new yoga pose expands muscles long contracted. No longer am I in the spotlight of my own life, instead I'm sharing it with a egocentric human fragment. As my mother's life before me was merely a conceptual haze, so must mine be to Sebastian. Photos of parents, their stories and past couldn't be possible, as the child wasn't there to witness it. My mother exists as only my mother, having been delivered as an adult the same time as me. A picture of her graduating high school seems like a film still. She beams from behind her cat-eye glasses, topped off with the bouffant hair, so eager to go off to college. No, my mother was born with long straight hair and hippy clothes. I Look at Sebastian, and my own photos, my own life fades and discolors. Photos of enchanted college years crystallize; the magical moments dulling into a display of funny clothes and odd choices of interior design.

The child in me wants to scream at him, to validate her experiences: there were times without cell phones, tablet computers and cable TV. In college, I inked letters, stamped them and mailed them to my high school friends. During my year in Italy, I had no email. The world changed and I was a part of it.

My thirteen pound baby absorbs the spotlight and leaves me in the shadows. He now dictates my outfits (nursing tops), when I sleep (when he does), when I change clothes (when they are soaked by baby effluence), what I eat (5-7 servings of organic fruits & veg), what I do drink (water) and what I do not (caffeine & excessive amounts of alcohol). I cannot let him out of my sight without first finding someone else to mind him. No longer will I be running off to the circus or Ibiza or the store without thinking of what will happen to Baz.

Magic moments come when he smiles and sleeps. It took 36 years to get my life just right. The right job, the right income, the resources to do what I wanted when I wanted to do it. I finally sated the child in me. Now I've got the child outside of me to sate.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Political Hostage Taking

Lately I've had a hard time with the news. I cannot stand to see what they are doing in Washington. I appalled that so many in Congress are OK with balancing our budget on the backs of the poor, infirm and elderly. This society is better than that - giving the Millionaires tax cuts while fighting a needless war in Iraq and reducing money for programs that give food to poor children.

What annoys me the most are the Tea Party's refusal to compromise. I'm not keen on compromise, I'd like to see Society run my way. However, I realize that not all Americans would support my Utopia. Thus we need to compromise; give & take. We can make changes to medicare AND increase taxes on those making over $1M. But the Tea Party won't budge.

The Tea Party has a Utopian vision of a Federal Government who's primary concern is that of American business. Fewer than 20 of the CEO's of Fortune 500 being anything other than White & Male. They feel the government shouldn't provide a safety net providing for the poor, the infirm and the old. Their ideology, as ideology always does, comes at the price of taking food from poor children, denying care to the sick and allowing the old to suffer. There is a lack of education funding, and thus no investment in the next generation. The driving force is, I want what I want and I want it now. Damn everyone else.

But like all ideologies - from The French Revolution to every attempt to implement Communism, their ends justify their means. No compromise is acceptable. Too bad if others want to live under different rules. Too bad if other citizens would like to see their money go to Planned Parenthood instead of wars. Their intransigent behavior riles me.

Why does the Catholic who is against abortion get to say that no money can go to Planned Parenthood? While my beliefs as a non-denominational spiritualist, don't get to halt my tax dollars from going to pay for these wars that violate all my morals?

As it is, we all pull together and we allot funds and taxes in an imperfect manner. It is a terrible system, yet better than all the others that have existing so far on this planet. Get with the program Tea Party. We compromise here and suffer no tyrants.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Rude Ramsey

My best friend Hilary gave me the best children's book ever, Rude Ramsey and the Roaring Radishes. The story isn't terribly complicated, but is is full of R words; Rude Ramsey, his friend, the red-nosed Rat, Ralph, ramparts, ruckuses and more. My mom and I read it almost daily. Not only that, but it actually increased my vocabulary with repine, repast and a extra definition of rent (an opening made by rending or tearing; slit; fissure).

The book is written by a beloved author, Margaret Atwood, which only makes it more inspiring. So inspiring, I feel compelled to try a similar short story on my own. It might involve a cab cruising cross country with a congenial canine, however, I can't contend with Atwood's celebrated conte. My copy could be crappy clinquant. I shall constrict my chronicle to a confined congregation of close cousins and courtiers. I hope my child considers it cherished.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Cutest Baby in the World

Like every new mom, I'm 100% convinced that my baby is the cutest, cuddliest, best thing on the planet. I'm also aware of my complete and utter bias. This baby could be hideous, but I will never know.

A friend of mine was completely sure that her baby was exceptionally cute, cuter than other babies. However, she was unaware of that baby-bias. She talked about trying to get baby modeling gigs for her boy. It was painful, yet none of us were willing to disabuse of her those notions. I hope the modeling agency was able to break it to her gently.

There are two things that I find funny when people meet Baz. First is when people say, "He has your coloring" which cracks me up - the hair is, um, well, enhanced. My mom misheard something I said and replied, "No, you can't henna his hair!" The thought hadn't really occurred to me, but ties well into the second thing I find amusing is when people say, "Oh, that really is Marc's baby!" I think that is code for, "He doesn't look much like you!"

Rarely am I able to see similarities between babies and their parents. So it cracks me to to hear that he does or doesn't look like me. Honestly, I don't see either me or Marc in him. I just see unbearable adorability. However I have learned the value of baby photos. Before I was a mother, hell, before I was pregnant, I couldn't have cared less to see a photo of your kids. But now, oh dear me, I have offered photos to business acquaintances! Some think I'm weird and seem to laugh it off - if that is possible via email, while take the, "I'll show you mine and you can show me yours!"

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Doesn't Attachment Parenting sound good? I'm not 100% sure what it is, however. Not one of the four books that I've read/consulted specifically covers Attachment Parenting - the ins & outs, dos & don'ts. So I have no concrete idea of what it is.

Yet, despite that, I'm pretty sure I'm failing. I do breastfeed. I've got baby in a co-sleeper. Yet can I collect Attachment Parenting points for things which are more about my convenience than the babies? I mean, I'm so lazy, I don't want to get out of bed to feed the baby, hence the co-sleeper. The baby doesn't sleep there because that's the safest alternative to co-sleeping. I think Dad would prefer to have baby in a crib and out of earshot, however, until he's got boobs to feed little Sebastian and is ready to be responsible for the night time feedings, he doesn't get a say.

Maybe I should pick-up yet another tome on how to best raise my baby, yet I feel that educated instincts are doing a pretty good job so far. I say educated, as I was educated about natural childbirth which lead to a good birth outcome - even if I did ask for drugs, I didn't get them. Are instincts the same as desires? Is that urge to eat the 10th cookie an instinct or desire?

We do have a good baby and we, like every other couple on the planet, are bumbling along the path of new parenthood. Yet, we tend the baby when he cries. Even sometimes I tend him when he doesn't cry which results in cries and a smack on the hand from Marc. My instinct is to help him when he's upset. If he's wet, change him. If he's hungry feed him (boob is the easiest). If he's got gas, do chicken-legs.

I stumble on the stimulation front. How much is good baby stimulation? Is it OK if he just lolls about while I fold laundry? I can tell him, "Now I'm folding your burp cloth" but that doesn't seem very high brow. Maybe I should take it up a notch by telling him about either the origins of the cloth (baby labor camps in China where he'll end up if he doesn't stop crying) or the history (Rags used in futile attempt to keep baby-effluence off good clothes)?

My books tell me to read to him. Seriously? I try, yet he doesn't even look at the book. He's also not that keen on toys. He's only just started making eye contact and cooing and smiling and melting my heart to the point that I wish I could spend every moment flirting with him. But then he looks away and I'm again wondering what do I do with this baby in my arms and I ponder on how I'm failing at this parenting thing.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Birth Story

Spoiler: Sebastian James Cohen was born Monday, May 9th at 6:25 PM. He weighed 7 lbs., 7 oz., and was 20.5 inches long. I think the cone head he had gave him those extra .5 inches.

How it happened; slowly.
I had a long early labor. Tuesday night, April 24th, I got a bad headache. The headache continued Wednesday along with a general mental fog and near inability to stay wake. Thursday or Friday the Braxton Hicks contractions were no longer something that merely happened - and if I felt my belly, I could feel. Instead, I was aware of them. They didn't hurt, but I did know when they were happening.

Saturday the midwives came to check me. They said this wasn't labor, but my cervix was 1 cm dilated & 50% effaced. During the check, they could feel what seemed like a thread in my cervix which they tried to massage a bit - not fun. They sadly informed me that this could go on for a week possibly. I couldn't imagine a week of narcolepsy, mental fog and mild contractions. Marc did his best to set my expectations to a longer view. I wanted to have the baby Sunday - or Monday at the latest.

Sunday morning arrived and the contractions were laced with pain. However, they were irregular and unable to settle into a pattern. Marc took me over to Mike's Beef & Brew for some breakfast. Our waitress, Melissa, expressed concern over my appearance of misery. Marc keeps telling me, "It isn't going to happen today." I want to kick him. He had a long To Do list, so my mother came over to keep my company. I gave her her Mother's Day gift - a Garmin to keep her from getting lost with our baby. By mid-day, it was pretty clear I wasn't going to be a mother on mother's day, despite the contractions.

However, at midnight the contractions took it up a notch. Not wanting to hear, "It isn't really labor" from my husband, I climbed out of bed and into the bath. The contractions initially slowed, but after about 45 minutes, they increased. After becoming a prune, I did get out and moved down to the fireplace - getting in the Bradley Rest Pose and tried to relax. Tsunami curled up close to keep me safe. After another hour or so, panic took over and I went back upstairs and woke up Marc. I was terrified that the baby would come before the midwives. Thankfully, Marc's cooler head prevailed. He kept me company and timed the contractions. He hid the clocks so that I couldn't try to make them more regular. About 5 AM I convinced him to call the midwives.

They arrived about 7:30, along with my mother and my dad arrived around 8:30 am. The initial check put me at 2 cm & nearly 90% effaced. They did feel that thread again on the cervix. I tried to do all the things the baby class taught me. I ate if I was hungry, I walked around. I took deep breaths through the contractions. The contractions were painful, but they didn't take my breath away.

Around 11 AM they suggested I take a bath. I obliged, the contractions ceased and Marc & my father enjoyed the Liverpool match. They won 5-0. However my labor had stalled. The midwives said for me to nap, they were heading out to lunch and then we'd discuss the game plan upon their return.

We have our pow-wow around 3 pm. The midwives think that things have stalled and we're probably not going to see action until the sun goes down. They say they can do some things to get labor going, but those only generate contractions, not labor. We check my cervix - I'm up to 3.5 cm and Mollie does some strong massage on the cervix, breaking the thread. They give me some homeopathic crystals to put under my tongue and leave me alone with Marc for some special cuddles. Kissing is another method of starting labor. Well, we don't do much kissing before the contractions kick it up a notch. I thought they hurt before, just kidding!

I have no idea how long I'm like this - but Marc is with me in bed and the contractions increase - it starts out about 3:30 pm. Someone says that I should go outside. Marc helps me walk - by giving me his back to support myself. It is freezing outside. My contractions slow, dad gives me a Popsicle. I want to go back to bed.

The contractions come back and then some. I'm trying to breathe with them, but then the pain escalates and I start to squeal. Relax. Focus. Low moans. Bring the pain, the breathe down. I can't get comfortable. Around 4:30 pm my water breaks and I flop off the bed. I try to squat against the wall, but that doesn't feel good either. Nothing feels good. Peeing is the worst, as the bladder is crushed and the walls of the lining are greatly irritated.

I labor on the floor, near the end of the bed for God knows how long. I beg to go to the hospital, "Please give me an epidural". In my head, I'm wondering how am I ever going to give this kid a sibling as I never want to feel this pain again. The mind wanders to thoughts, "If I got an epidural, I would still have to go through early labor - how useful is that?" "I can't do a c-section." "What the hell am I going to do?"

I suggest a bath between contractions, "Yes, but you'll have to get out to push" the midwives say. Shower? "OK, let's get Marc into a suit." The midwives prep the shower, I make a mid-contraction dash. The water feels good, but I cannot stay standing. I'm down on all 4's and Marc's not finished changing. I flop out of the shower and onto the mats. "Time to push" I say. "Can you pee first?" I try, but nothing comes out. The toilet feels super good. "Can I push on the toilet?" "No." They've prepared an area in the bedroom. The painful contractions are subsiding and I've got the pushing to do.

I try the step for an assisted squat - no go, I flop again. This time, I'm on my left side. Marc's on the couch behind me. He's got my top leg. My bottom leg is bent. The midwives can see the head. And the pushing begins. I can feel the head ducking in & out. They have me touch the hairy, slimy top. I'm encouraged, and start to push harder. The pain changes to an achy and burning pain that is localized in the arrival area - no more soul crushing pain riveting through my abdomen. My dad is there - I have no idea when he arrived. He's holding my hand. I'm pushing... harder. And then there is a baby. The pain mostly ceases.
I have a slimy, crying, wriggly baby on my chest. Warm blankets cover us. I ask Marc to check if it is a boy or a girl. A boy, and would the midwives confirm?

I'm now on my back, the midwives are trying to help me get the placenta out. I'm bleeding too much for their liking. I think they give me a shot, then a second medication to slow the blood. The placenta comes out, but there are some other membranes. I'm shaking uncontrollably - but they tell me that is normal, just hormones. I hug the baby wondering if this will end with an ambulance. But the blood slows, the membranes come out. I'm OK.

The cord pulses out and they want to clamp & cut it. They set it up, Marc does the cut. The baby is on his own. Marc takes him and I can take a shower. I think it was the best shower in the history of all showers. I have to wear a diaper after wards, as I'm still letting blood go. We - me, Marc & Sebastian, all climb into bed. I'm brought soup and some reheated pizza. Mollie & Laurel give us the placenta tour - I have a wound the size of a dinner plate bleeding from my uterus. Great. They do the newborn check and Sebastian is good to go. We give him the vitamin K shot. He's unbelievable. So small. So perfect. With arms that flail about and toes and a belly.

He can't really see me yet. He has no clue who I am. I doubt he knows what love is. Yet I'm in love with him. I could kiss him all day - he doesn't really like that. He doesn't like to have his diaper changed. He prefers to be warm. He's a good sleeper and really digs breast milk. As I write this, he's only 6 days old. My stomach has gotten flatter by the day, yet my breasts have increased. I'm down 16 lbs now - only 20 more to go. Maybe 25 if I milk my boob right. All's well in the Cohen household. Despite the pain, Sebastian won't be an only child. I'll be looking into Hypnobirth and birthing tubs next time - assuming that we're still low risk and the next baby is in the right position and all tests are normal. Yes, I want a natural birth, but not one that puts me or future baby #2 at risk.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dog Ambitions

When not having contractions or looking deep into Tsui's eyes, I've been plotting her summer hair cut. As you loyal readers may recall, the first summer out here she had the Mohawk that helped her look taller & thinner. Last summer she had the lion cut, however she was disappointed to not get a role in the community theater's Lion King.

This summer I'd like to do the low-rider. My thought is to buzz the top, leaving the sides full to give her a short & squat look - even more than she already has as a wiener dog. Then we'd add some color - I'd like to add red & orange over her front paws to give her flames. I suggested we dip her paws in black dye to make tires, but Marc says no.

I still need to come up with a strange honk equivalent and a way to paint, "Warren DeLano 6/21/73 - 11/2/2009 RIP" on the equivalent of the back window. More thought is required.

Dog Days

We're getting close. Last night I started to get irregular contractions and a terrible headache. This morning I was still getting contractions and still had my headache. I'm guessing the headache is associated with the hormone shift. The contractions are still mild and irregular, yet I'm aware of them for the first time. Previously the Braxton Hicks contractions were only felt if my hand was on my belly. Now my belly is telling me that it is getting tight - no hands required. At times I wonder if my uterus might be working on an impression of a bowling ball. It becomes hard and spherical and, from my estimate, it might weigh roughly 10-12 pounds with baby, placenta and amniotic fluid included.

I got in a nap this , as I felt narcoleptic this morning and my attempts to work were foibled by foggy head. The nap took the fog away along with the stronger contractions. I suspect they'll be back. I hope not tonight... I'd rather made the labor a weekend project.

As I write this, I'm enjoying a warm breeze through the open window behind me. Little Tsunami is dozing on her back next to me. I suddenly had an urge to find her belly button. She didn't seem to mind and I think I found a small divot where she was once connected to her mum. Good to know she isn't of alien origin. Zoe submitted to a belly search and I think i was able to locate hers as well.

Today I've been telling Tsunami, "Not much longer. You're going to be replaced by a monkey baby." and, "You did a good job as a practice baby. I promise not to forget you when the baby is here." She does not seem distressed by the impending change. Instead she looks deep into my eyes in a loving hypnotic way that evokes a feeling of overwhelming love and tenderness. They tell me I'll fell that same feeling but on steroids when I look at my baby. I can't imagine, but should know soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Garden Update

Tiger was restrained, however the snails were not.
I am missing a bean plant, mystery plant and was able to rescue a clump of baby lettuce from two marauding snails. Plot #1 doesn't look happy.

Tiger Proof Fence - Veggie Garden Year 3

The veggie garden has expanded. With a lovely gift from Dad & Brendan-Kate-Lilly Mac, I now have a second garden plot. This one out sizes garden plot #1. We've gone from 4x8 to 4x12. This grow was in part due to my annoyance that I really can't grow corn, Tomato & other veg in a 4x8 foot plot - well, not more than 1 plant of each. This year, the new plot will be the tomato-corn plot. The original will (hopefully) have beans, okra, peppers, chard, carrots, cucumber and eggplant. Maybe I'm being a bit ambitious.

Last weekend Dad helped with the installation of the plot. We were quite a motley crew of workers, Dad being a bit older and seeing him work makes me uncomfortable. Me, unable to pull my normal weight being 8 months pregnant. Which leaves Marc, our only able bodied worker. Despite the collection of physical limitations, Dad & I dug up the lilies (which are awaiting planting at my mother's house) and sod. Together the three of us assembled the wood frame. Then Dad & I filled the plot with the soil that able-bodied Marc had carried from the garage to the back yard. While we filled, Marc worked on our reward - a steak & potato lunch. Our successful installation praised, our reward consumed, Dad soon departed and we promptly napped to recover our strength.

This weekend we took on the watering system and installation of the Tiger proof fence. Last weekend, we realized we had an odd configuration of sprinklers that we could tap and re-work to provide irrigation to the plants. Saturday started off with a trip to Lowes and much thoughtful time in the irrigation aisle. $200 later we headed home with piping, nobs, tubes, adapters, caps, fence posts, fencig and six sage plants that work as caterpillar deterrents for my tomatoes.

Marc set to work on the sprinkler system and I, realizing my utter lack of water delivery knowledge got tasked with driving in the stakes for the anti-pet fence. With all my learning, I never expected to be the one driving posts with mallot in hand. After 7 stakes, I realized that gloves would be a good idea. I AM looking forward to my mani-pedi today to soothe my ego & rough skin.

This year marks another new adventure - a few weeks back I treated myself to a seed sprouter. This magical device gives me little pods into which I put seeds and then it creates plants. Some call it nature, I call it miraculous. My first round was an utter success, until I tried to move them to larger grow containers and killed about half of those that had grown. Well, I started another batch - this time including 3 types of tomatoes: Beef Steak, Roma & cherry. Well, the ones that did survive my brutal replanting as well as all of those from round 2 have been put into the ground. The cord didn't really make it, but I, ever the optimist, put them in plot #2 and said a prayer. Also in plot #2 we've got the smallest little tomatoes tucked in under protective wire frames, guarded by sage plants along the border. In plot #1, we still have Massive, Happy-Chard that hasn't been pulled up in 18 months. I think we need to eat more chard to keep it better under control.

Also in Plot #1 - the cabbage that I put in back in December that is finally getting big enough to consider producing heads. To them I added 3 pea plants, the 1 bean plant that made it, 2.5 okra plants (it would be three, but I knocked off the leaves from one during the replanting process, so we're again optimistic and saying prayers) along with a row of carrot seeds (they can't be sprouted, must go in the ground. I also planted 5 tender shoots that I think are bell peppers, but am unsure along with one total mystery plant. I'm trying not to over plant, per Marc's encouragement. However, things look so bare right now. It is taking a lot of energy to NOT add more.

Also, I created the potato circle/mound and put all my seed potatoes into the ground. We're crossing our fingers for a nice harvest of banana potatoes in 75 days. The package says 75 days, yet I've never had my plants fruit in that short of a time frame. What am I doing wrong?

By the end of the day, and many impromptu sprinkler showers later, we have installed a happy irrigation system, plants and a fence that should keep Tiger, the cat that loves to use my plots for a litter box, out. I haven't checked if it was successful. Marc earned himself a special gold star by dragging our exhausted selves out to the store to get kitty litter so that Tiger might use her outside box instead of my plots.

With that, I'm out to see if kitty-enemy #1 has soiled my labors.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Home Birth

I've tried to keep my interest in home birth a bit of a secret. I didn't want to be harangued by people telling me why I need to go to the hospital. Until last week, I had my parents & husband set against the idea, but Marc cracked and we've picked a team of East Bay Midwives to do the home birth - barring any complications that would send me to the hospital.
My friend's baby-mamma wrote up this wonderful rationale for why home birth:
Which I 100% agree with. However she left out one part of my decision - the physical achievement.

In my life I've hiked the Andes. I've danced until dawn. I've run 26 miles in a row. I've done two half marathons, one up Mt. Diablo and through streams coming down. I've done 3 hour bike rides that have left me saddle sore for days. I've done cousin death marches around various cities. I've risen to many physical challenges and endured the temporary pain that comes with them.

Along the way I've noticed that endorphins kick in. Running 26 miles is a long time to be in discomfort, yet many people do it voluntarily. I haven't yet experienced child birth, yet my Bradley Method Instructor who's had 5 natural births describes labor as work, but not necessarily painful work.

Training for the early stages of labor - relaxing so that the only muscle working is the uterus. Advice I have heard when doing distance running training - relax all muscles but those working. Tight shoulders during runs will cause pain as will they during childbirth. Anxiety or mental tightness during running causes pain as will it during childbirth. Yes, stretching those parts of me will leave me saddle sore for a while - as does a long bicycle ride.

I hope that putting childbirth in the same context as endurance physical events and using the same mental & physical techniques will result in a childbirth where I'm high on endorphins, not morphine. I'll have the baby and be coherent and a full participant in the experience - not doped up and woozy.

Yesterday the midwives pointed out that I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions. The rest of the day, I was feeling my belly, waiting for it to become firm and solid as it was in their office. I am so thrilled that I'm getting closer to the big event. My body is working and preparing like I am mentally.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How many products do you use each day?

In the last few years, I've vacationed several places which should have lovely snorkeling but instead have reefs that appear to be dying. What struck me in my last visits to Hawaii as well as staying at a hotel on the "Coral Coast" of Fiji was how fuzzy the coral looks. Hawaii especially - what was once a magical world of vibrant colors looked like it was coated by mold and sand. I credited global warming, and sadly shook my head.

Then I saw the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and some ideas started bouncing around in my head. They are pushing to get toxic ingredients out of products we put on our bodies. I watched their video - - agreed in my standard liberal way and then didn't think much of it.

But then it started to eat away at me. I mean, I compost my organic, locally grown veggie scraps. I grow my own veg. While being pregnant and peeing twice an hour, I've taken to flushing every other time (kinda gross, but it is just a touch of pee that can mellow until joined by more pee). I do what I can to live as gently on this plant. But I'm potentially washing my hair with stuff that is killing fish and marine life.

While in the shower, I looked at the bottle of Pureology, which I love, and realized that it proudly stated that it was Vegan. My shampoo is vegan. Seriously! But then I looked at the ingredients. Most of the ingredients came out of a lab. I'm sure some were derived from petroleum products. What good is having vegan shampoo when the ingredients it requires come from oil? The stuff that we just dumped millions of gallons into the gulf killing billions of fish, birds and other marine life. Seems a bit silly. Then I looked at the Neutrogena body wash - same thing, vegan but with chemicals. The pattern emerges.

As I got out of the shower, I started counting all the products I lather on my body. Special anti-stretch mark lotion for the belly, Essential Organic moisturizer for the legs, face moisturizer, eye treatment, deodorant, 3-4 different products to make my hair happy and maybe a dash of perfume and counted eight or nine products in all. No wonder the reefs were dying outside the hotel in Fiji. All that stuff plus sunscreen washes off us, into the water and it disrupts the delicate balance of the water.

Now, I'm terrible, I'm not going to stop dying my hair. I am going to take a closer look at the products I rub all over me. I'd like to see if I can find more earth friendly. I want more ingredients which I can identify - Tea Tree Oil - and fewer that I can't - Methylparaben.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Belly - Size Matters

Less than a week ago, one of the barristas at our regular Starbucks was surprised to hear I was pregnant. Which shocked & appalled me. She said she just thought I had put on a few pounds. Great! I'm 7 months along and still look fat-not-pregnant.
This is only 10 hours before I have birth class where me & 3 other women are learning about natural childbirth. Of the there other pregnant woman, one had her baby Monday. She was on #2 and taking the class as a refresher - so while I am jealous of her round and clearly pregnant belly, she's over 2 months ahead of me, so no comparison.
However, I've got two other women in the class. One is larger and it isn't obvious she's pregnant, as she is just large. The other, who is due a week before me, has a clearly pregnant belly.
Me - I could be 5 months if that, or as the barrista says, "just thought you looked a little porky." So, what do I do? I find myself pushing out the belly farther than normal. No worries about keeping the abs tight. I'm like a child who sticks out their belly to scream, "See! I'm pregnant!". But, really, I am pregnant.
I tell my coworker who just delivered her 2nd baby that I'm trying to pick clothes which make it clear that I'm expecting. She was so confused, "Why?" So i don't look fat! Duh!
Marc seems to think I'm crazy. I just need to find a t-shirt that declares my current state sot that, despite the 22 lb weight gain, I can feel pregnant not fat.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Strange Thoughts

Here I am at 7 months. Two months to go until we meet future baby.
In my attempts to connect with future baby, I realized that the little one is upside-down and, for the most part, in the same position it will be in for the next 2 months. Would you get bored stuck in the same position, on your head for 2 months?
What is the little baby thinking? How bored must it be? No TV, books, music is only at the whim of your mother. It sounds terrible. I feel guilty, until I force fish down my throat for the benefit of future baby. Then again, it doesn't sound like the next nine months are much better. How did we make it through those long days of no thought and little action?

But then I go to get dressed and feel so big. Yes, Marc is a good husband and I believe him when he says I look beautiful. I think we tell pregnant women they are glowing to make up for min 20 lbs we gain, the inability to put on our shoes and frustration with clothes. I get dressed and think, "God I'd like something else to wear. But why buy clothes that I can only wear for the next 69 days? What a waste!" Sigh.
In our house we have a struggle between my pregnancy-onset anorexia and Marc's efforts to keep food entering my body. This week was a victory for me - I haven't gained weight this week. I anticipate a surge from the Marc side of things... we'll have cheese plates, snacks and endless trips to Starbucks where pastries magically appear for me. He is a good man. He'll be a good father. I hope I'll be a good mom.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Collective Bargining

I am quite disturbed by the Wisconsin Governor Walker's drive to end collective bargaining in his state. What I've seen is that those with the least use collective bargaining to ensure that they maintain an adequate income. I've never seen collective bargaining used by the Haves (Stock Brokers, Sales Reps, Bankers, Lawyers, etc). The vast majority of those who collectively bargain are blue collar workers. The teachers, hotel workers, plumbers, laborers who do the stuff we white collar folk disdain.
Many states have decided that the Haves don't need to contribute to the budget deficits. They don't need any tax adjustment. Instead the efforts to balance budgets falls on those with the least voice and ability to fight back. We're taking money from our kids & schools. Which, I suspect will result in a need for more prisons down the line. Walker is doing his best to bust unions so that those barely making the national average will have little leverage when their pay dips below the national average. They are removing funding from health care and family planning - great more need for prisons in 18 years. They won't help people NOT have kids, nor will they help support, raise or education those unwanted children who then be burdens on our society.
I hope all union workers in Wisconsin strike. Stand-up!
Our collective culture will deteriorate if we insist on taxing our poor and vulnerable while letting the millionaires & billionaires thrive. There is no trickle down. We tried that under Bush and all we got was a massive depression.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Can the Federal Government Require to you buy something?

One of the premises of the argument against Obama's health care plan is that the Federal Government requires you to purchase something. At first I did think this might be a bit dubious, however, as I start to amass goods for the Future Baby, I'm suddenly dumbstruck by all that I'm mandated to purchase.
I have to purchase a car seat to get the baby home. I guess I could take the bus or walk, if I didn't want to. That is also like saying we don't need to buy food. How many Americans are able to grow their own food supply?
I have to purchase vaccines in order for my child to participate in society. We are all familiar with the fight on this front.
I have to provide a quality environment for the baby. If I don't buy diapers and let it stew in its own waste, Child Protective Services will come take the baby.
I must provide clothing to the child, or it will not be able to leave the house. Again, I might be able to raise cotton, clean, spin & weave it into cloth from which I can then fashion a garment, yet that loop hole is a bit silly. So, the purchase of clothing is required - especially if my child is to attend school. If my child does not attend school, I'm mandated to provide education for it - which requires the purchase of curriculum/materials, etc.
It seems silly to say that the government cannot require us to buy things.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Officially it has started! I didn't think it would happen so soon...
I'm 23 weeks along. Just a few more days and I'll be in the third trimester. However, to those who do not know me, I just look big-bellied. I look like I've been working my way solo, through a keg and it is moving from the metal tin to my gut. I do not look pregnant. I look nothing like all the photos of pregnant women with distinct round bulges. Yes, I know, I should count myself lucky

However, when I am not counting myself lucky for having a beach-ball under my shirt, I am stuck with this nagging thought in my head, "Is my fetus developing normally?" Is it on the small side? Is that why my belly isn't round and massive? I didn't think I'd have to worry about my child's development until the Human Tape Worm (HTW) made an appearance. At which point, I'd feel compelled to chronicle how soon it walked, held a rattle, said "Mommy!" and such. But no, I'm starting the worry now even before the HTW has appeared.

Maybe it would grow more if I felt more maternal towards it. The exercise tapes and birth class talk about feeling connected to my baby. How am I supposed to feel connected? The big belly is like a never-ending post Thanksgiving bloat and the kicks could just be high-powered gas. The glowing woman, hands on belly, gently gazing down who is somehow channeling the Virgin Mary - nope not me. I'm sure it will change with HTW makes a personal appearance. Until then, I'll keep wondering what is going on in there and if it has learned how to play Mozart yet.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Energy Efficiency

Yesterday I enjoyed an hour catching up on New Yorker magazines. I read a number of thought providing articles, one if which has stuck with me.
This one: The Efficiency Dilemma - If our machines are more efficient, will we just use more of them?
The article clearly states that the answer to that is, "Yes!". The example provided about refrigeration has an interlinked story with other excess with it. Essentially, by the 50's the modern home had a refrigerator. That model would pale in comparison to our current versions - cooling less while using twice as much energy. Yet, 50+ years later, we don't have just one, energy efficient fridge. Instead we have the kitchen fridge, the spare in the garage, or maybe a drink cooler in the family room and a sub-zero to keep our Costco purchases frozen. So, yes, our refrigerator is more efficient, so we own more of them. Our energy usage is not less.

So, for the same energy bill, we can own two fridges which means we have to fill them, right? Trips to Costco help with that. We super size our consumption of food. The article notes, "the growth of American refrigerator volume has been roughly paralleled by the growth of American body-mass index." However, we don't eat it all. According to, we throw away some 40% of the produce we produce.

This core issue has been bouncing around in my head. Yes, I struggle with cooking & eating everything I bring home. I hate to have something go bad. I do try to put what I don't eat into either the dog-bowl or the compost heap. I do have one weakness - take home food. Friday we had a pizza delivered and ate half of it. The rest is still there... staring at me, asking to be eaten. But with my expanding waist, I'm not keep to indulge twice in a 7 day period. I'm guilty of over buying and there are starving children in some parts of the world. You might think, it's just a pizza indulgence - get over it! Yet last week, it was left-over Thai food that sat in there wanting to be eaten for days. There is a pattern of waste in my life.

And it doesn't stop with the food. I know I'm evil by keeping the house at 70 degrees in the winter and, I'm not sure what in the summer. I ponder shade structures in the back yard to passively cool both the units & my house. My ever-so-efficient air conditioning units face west and bake in the summer sun - but really, that could improve their efficiency by 10%, would I then change the thermostat down 10% in the summer, evening out the gains?

In essence I'm American and living the American life-style. Unless I make radical changes, such as going off the grid or replacing my house with an earthship, are the changes worth it? They are small and mere drops in the larger sea of energy usage.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

DMV Follow-up

The DMV visit was fantastic. Never better! Couldn't believe it!
I didn't have an appointment - having been to sick on Thursday to go, I went on Friday with Nook & New Yorker in hand. However, I didn't get to read. My number was called within 10 minutes of arriving. The guy who helped me was very nice. Almost every person who I spoke to congratulated me on my new married status. The were quick, nice, competent. Except for the photo lady - she was a bit scattered and I was left standing for a while, which, in my current state, can get a bit tiresome.
One bad thing - they did warn me that my license might be 2 months to arrive! They are re-vamping the California ID/Driver's Licenses. I'm excited to see what the new one looks like. I do hope my hair looked OK. My last photo was fantastic. The one before, well, I kinda looked like a Russian Prostitute. Bad hair & face day.

One strange thing - I counted 8 babies at the DMV all under the age of two. Very strange. Do we now require drivers licenses for Big Wheels?

The mother of the little tyke next to me was even more odd. She was well manicured with the hair/make-up & nails yet, despite having a toddler in tow, she elected to go wit the four inch, platform, patent leather heels. The shoes I would choose to go clubbing in are her top pick for going to the DMV with baby.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Writer's Block

Yep. I can't find anything to write about today.
Maybe tomorrow I'll have more inspiration?
Tomorrow I'll be sitting at the DMV getting my driver's license updated to reflect my new name. My last few visits to the DMV have confirmed my sense that it is the cesspool of American Culture. Why is the DMV so appealing to those missing teeth, whose educations ceased at the second grade? Is it the hard, plastic seats? The unwashed surfaces? Is it the eternal lines with the mysterious numbering systems? What is it like this in other countries? Marc claims they do it all by mail, so they have avoided the entire entity.
While my favorite moment at the DMV was registering my SLK a few years back. I got it all tested - which was a challenge, as I accidentally called road-side assistance while trying to pop the hood. But the nice man who gave me my place and walking papers sent me of with, "Yo fit to ro'l". Bling Bling in my Black Mercedes!
My experiences tomorrow may provide me with a bleak & dirty muse.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fit & Pregnant

I didn't realize exactly how rare fitness was in women. Why this has come to my attention - I am having the hardest time finding information, workouts and fitness gear for pregnant women.
What I can find reflects an image that most women don't do anything vigorous. The maternity shops give you a large cotton t-shirts:
Seriously - these are my workout top options? None of the options appear to be designed for actual workouts, where one wants the sweat to be wicked-away with special fabrics.
Dropping by Lululemon, a bit proponent of women's fitness I was told, "Our regular clothes have 4 way stretch and can accommodate a pregnant belly." Really? You're telling me this 30 inch waist top will expand by 50% to get abound my belly that I anticipate to be 45 inches around? I have my doubts.
However, even if I can find the clothes, I'll be hard pressed to find a workout. The fitness advice in "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (a book that is able to convince more women that they have medical issues than med school is able to create hypochondriacs), includes push-ups against the wall, gentle stretching and other activities for those who find the idea of running a mile unfathomable. May caution against any Real Effort, as that might upset the delicate constitution of a pregnant woman. I'm taking a birthing class and their "exercises" include daily 5 minute walks, a pelvic tilt and squatting.
I know that marathon training & pregnancy aren't really a good combo, yet there is nothing for the expecting mother who, at the start of the pregnancy could go out and knock out 3 miles in 30 minutes. Suddenly I'm being told not to do to much - 5-30 minutes a day of walking should do it. I do that with the dogs - what am I supposed to do to keep fit?
Is the limited number of products an indication of a limited audience? Are there so few women who are fit and want to stay that way during pregnancy? I can't be the only one.