Mean Girl to the Rescue!

How'm I gonna save the world when the world ain't ready?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Castor oil is your friend! Sometimes.

For anyone who might be interested, what follows is the birth story of my second (and hopefully, last) child. It's not the roller coaster tour-de-force of the first birth story, but it may bring hope to anyone who worries that her second labor experience will be longer, more raw and more painful than her first.

I was due on April 25th, but there was an expectation that the date of actual delivery would be quite fluid, given that I'd had no idea I was preggo, and couldn't provide anyone with anything but the vaguest idea of when my last (first!) period had been. Sigh. I used to be organized, once. Anyway, I'd thought I'd go early, but instead I was late. After 3 days, I called my wonderful midwife and made an appointment.

"We'll make arrangements for postdate testing," she said, referring to the fun of sitting still in a reclining seat while the baby's movements are charted and amniotic fluid levels checked. The idea of doing this while wrangling a 2-year old was not attractive.
"Or," she said musingly, "you could spur labor on by taking a dose of castor oil. That's what I did with my second kid. Just take it on an empty stomach and you won't spend the whole day pooping. Oh, and feel free to go into labor in the meantime."

Normally, I'm all for things running their natural course, but I felt huge. I had gained 40 lbs. and we had just moved into a new fixer-upper house 3 weeks prior. Before that, we'd spent 3 months living with my parents in their townhouse. My big kid, now 2, had transitioned into a big boy bed, was talking a mile a minute and had begun potty training during that time. I can honestly say that 2 days in the hospital seemed like a pretty sweet vacation. Sad, huh?

The following day, down to the CVS I went with my empty stomach, after packing Woogie off to my SIL (a wondrous saint of a woman who has babysat him on the regular since we moved, allowing me to do things like, say, sleep). Then I drove to Wendy's to procure myself a Frosty, on the advice of Booby's coworker, whose wife mixed her castor oil into one prior to ingestion (the stuff is naaaasty). In my haste/Frosty lust, I drove too close to the drive-thru window and snapped the rearview mirror clean off the car. But it was totally worth it. I had a major Frosty addiction this pregnancy, and let me tell you, I indulged.

After a couple of hours and no fireworks, I figured nothing was going to happen, so I ate a late lunch. One hour later, well, let's just say the fireworks began. The whole idea behind taking castor oil is that you'll get a raging case of the trots, and the contractions of your bowel will instigate contractions of your uterus, and labor will begin. Most of what I read online said it's a bum steer, but people, I am here to tell you it is not.

At 4:30 p.m., I called Booby to tell him to come home - just in case, and anyway I was stuck to the toilet so he needed to come parent our toddler. At 6:30 p.m., I was having regular, but not too painful contractions. At 8:30, they started to intensify a little, and I was glad that Booby had forced me to call my folks so they'd come get Woogie and spare him the sight of his mommy in active labor. By 9, my water had broken (me: "My water just broke!" Booby: "No it didn't!" Apparently, he expected a tsunami) and we were en route to the hospital. VERY INTENSE. Very fast. Still, I was fastidious enough to have changed underwear (a pointless endeavor, and difficult to manage while contracting) and be sitting on a towel (far less pointless).

Part II coming when I have a little more "me time." God willing.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Rich man's family

Huh, so what do you know, it's been almost a year since I posted anything new. However, I have a good excuse:
We call her Pigeon. 8.64 lbs of pure love, birthed a mere 34 minutes after arrival at the hospital. Birth story coming soon.

About this time last year, I was probably weaning Woogie, who was 14 months old then and who had begun biting my nips and laughing uproariously at each feeding. You know how they say breastfeeding is an inefficient method of birth control? Well, they lied (at least in my case), BUT you damn skippy better have the Mirena ready to roll when you stop, because it took *one cycle* for me to get pregnant again. This, after various drugs of the swallowable and injectable variety, endless charting, two failed IUIs and innumerable vials of blood taken from me over a 15-month period of time before my first pregnancy.

You can imagine my shock when I went to my fertility doctor to discuss "working on" a second baby and was told told, "Hey, surprise! You're already 5 1/2 weeks pregnant." My uterus has been kick-started, big time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

If you plant it, they will come

One thing I promised myself that having a child wasn't going to take away from me was my voracious reading habit, and I'm happy to say, I'm still reading a LOT. Blogging, not so much, but what can a girl do? Blogging occasionally seems to be how it'll go for me.

Booby and I dismantled our veggie square foot garden this year, because we put our little house up for sale, and we figured that an additional parking space would be more attractive than 6 feet of garden space surrounded by red bricks. As a result, both of us are feeling garden withdrawal, and plotting our future house purchase with special attention to The New Garden (did you know that some boros will give you trees for your yard - for FREE?).

I've also been reading a lot to get myself set up for the next place. On the bedside table this month: Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens, by Douglas W. Tallamy, who lives in Southeastern PA, just like I do. This book is a very interesting read. It makes the case that if we plant native plants in our suburban gardens, rather than alien ornamentals, we'll have a thriving insect community, which will then support and sustain other wildlife who will eat those insects. It's a pretty simple theory, but clearly a workable one.

Before I started this book, it had occurred to me that picking all the aphids from my roses wasn't going to leave much for the ladybugs who lunch on them, and I did manage to restrain myself from hosing them off of my milkweeds, since those plants exist only to be chomped by monarch butterfly larvae, anyway. We've been trained to remove all bugs from the garden, so just leaving it all be and let it exist as its own balanced ecosystem might make your fingers itch - though the rewards will be great if you do. Example: last year, our garden was enough of a pest palace that not one, not two, but five praying mantises (manti?) left egg cases behind (possibly after mating and then chewing their men's heads off post-coitally). I was fortunate enough to be outside shortly after one of the egg-cases, or oothecae, delivered its precious cargo into the world. I have never seen so many tiny, freaky little  praying mantises. They were everywhere, just hanging out, and some of them stuck around for several days (Booby has photos here). Safe to say that if we didn't have a few native plants providing food for the mantises, I wouldn't have seen those babies sunning themselves on my false dragonhead.

Tallamy also includes an appendix with lists of appropriate plants for your region. Since no one, not even the most dedicated entomologist, has ever listed which insects eat which plants (in full), this is not as simple as it sounds, so he has concentrated on the plant species favored by butterflies, moths and their larvae for each region, including information on which natives provide food for the most species, so you can get the most bang for your buck (or for your foraging trouble, since you can easily find many native seeds on your local wooded hiking trail). The idea here is that these insects are a particular favorite of nesting birds to feed their young (even herbivorous birds will feed exclusively protein-rich bugs to their nestlings), and thus bring birds (and bats!) to your yard, and keep the whole system in balance.

I have a few natives in my garden, particularly in the shady parts, but I have to admit that I had been remiss - I had three patches of alien, potentially invasive honeysuckle in there, due to my fondness for nice-smelling flowers. These plants are often seen colonizing vacant lots and slowly taking over trees, kudzu-like, until there's nothing left but a massive pile of vines. Birds disperse the plants by eating and then pooping the seeds, but insects ignore them and it's easy for them to take over. Now my garden is non-native honeysuckle-free (except for some shrubs whose berries are ignored by the birds anyway), and the garden at my next house will (eventually) be as native as I can stand for it to be, though it might mean chopping down a Norway maple or two.

If you're interested in planting natives and need a source in your state, you can find one here.

How is your gardening going this year?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bobby Dunbar

It's been forever, I know. I've been chasing after a 13-month old (!) who started walking some time before Easter, and dammit, I just been tired. There's no N on my keyboard (forcibly removed by aforementioned 13-month old). We're trying to get our ducks in a row to sell our house in a craptacular sellers' market. Life goes on.

In the meantime, check out this story from This American Life. It had us spellbound one Sunday as we drove around attending open houses a few suburbs down the Blue Route. If you're a mother, you'll find it absolutely heartbreaking. If you're not, you'll probably still find it heartbreaking (but maybe to a lesser extent). This story is one of the reasons why my husband has a big ole man crush on Ira Glass.

Monday, January 07, 2008

So I married a cat hurter-er

The scene: bedtime, in the bedroom. The fattest cat, HIM (between 18-20 lbs.!), jumps into my spot in the bed about 1.2 femtoseconds after I vacate it to go brush my teeth. Since this is a cat who is too fat to clean his own ass properly (earning him the nickname "A.J.," for "Ass Juice"), I am less than thrilled by this phenomenon, which occurs multiple times per night.

Upon my return, I try to slide him from the bed gently onto the floor, mindful of his bum leg. His not inconsiderable belly sloshes around a bit, but he has somehow melded himself onto the bed. I have no choice but to pick him up and drop him onto the floor, and he lands, - you guessed it - right on the stump. Limping, hissing, and reproachful looks back ensue as he hobbles out of the room, and I'm struck with intense guilt. Booby comforts me.

"Oh, don't worry about it, honey. He's fine," he says. "I do terrible things to the cats all the time."

Why can't we have an amusing LOLcat, instead?

Monday, December 31, 2007

Set your blenders to stun. I mean, puree.

Because I am one of those not-trusting-in-big-corporations types of people, when it came time to start feeding my kid solids, I knew I would, at the very least, attempt to make his food. Izzy is the one who pointed out the stupidity of Gerber manufacturing organic baby food and then packaging it in polycarbonate plastic (and I wrote them an aggrieved email asking them why, and they swear that the plastic they use is not polycarbonate. But isn't that what #7 plastic IS? I welcome your enlightenment, dear readers). There is always Earth's Best organic baby food - I trust them far more than, say, Beech Nut - but mah gawd, the expense! So I had to try to make my own. And it was a lot easier than you'd think.

Basically, if you want to do it without a book of recipes, you can just peel (you can leave summer squash, figs and other thin-skinned items unpeeled, if organic) whatever fruits and/or veggies you have around, cut them into a 1/2" dice, plop them in a pot and cover them with water. Then bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer the whole contents of the pot to the blender (being careful not to splash hot food on yourself), and puree, pushing the solid pieces to the bottom to ensure even texture. Then pour into sterilized, empty baby food jars (the dishwasher is hot enough to sterilize, or use your baby's bottle sterilizer), or use whatever sterilized glass jars you have, from jam, or salsa, or whatever. Leave to cool for maybe half an hour (so the glass doesn't break from the temp change of the fridge), pop into the refrigerator, and you're done. Seriously. That's it. If you can cook for yourself, you can cook for your baby.

If you want to get fancier, or need ideas for what foods go together best, there are two excellent books I recommend. The first is nice and simple, has a number of great recipes, and is available on Amazon (I got it through interlibrary loan, though, and so could you): Blender Baby Food by Nicole Young, who seems to be a blender aficionado (her other books are blender recipe books). Her measurements are precise and all the recipes I tried worked, quickly and easily.

The second one, I liked so much I bought it new: Cathe Olson's Simply Natural Baby Food.
The recipes are simple, yet unusual enough for a jaded toddler's interest, and she has wonderful information about making sure your baby gets the best nutrition possible, using ingredients like nutritional yeast and seaweed (although I had a hell of a time finding the many varieties of seaweed she suggests, even at my beloved H-Mart), and suggesting alternatives to salt, like Bragg's amino acids. I got the sense that Cather really knows her shit, and I really love her sidebars filled with tips and tricks. She gives equal time to vegetarian options, but doesn't make you feel like a villain if you choose to feed your baby protein in meat form. Cathe even has a blog, which is right up my alley with its information on BPA-lined formula cans and Monsanto-engineered GMO sugar (coming soon to a Kellogg's cereal near you!).

There are many, many other baby food cookbooks out there, and each has its own spin, usually written by a professional baby food cook who has her own business (who knew there was such a thing?). It's worth noting that virtually all of these promote the importance of organic produce for babies, since their little systems are tiny enough to be easily overloaded by the chemicals found on conventional produce. If you're interested in making your own food, why not get whatever cookbook is available at your local library and take the recipes for a test drive first? Making your own baby food might not be the right choice for you, but if it is, the sense of accomplishment is surprisingly great. Plus, you get to smile beatifically as you say, "Why, yes, I do make little Junior's food!" while you enjoy an inner smug moment. Or maybe that's just me ...

Labels: ,

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On the road to being bitch-and-moan-free

Top 10 Reasons Why I Haven't Posted

1. 2 separate contractors to complete one job over a period of 8 weeks (was supposed to take one week to drywall over hideous paneling and finish off the edges).

2. And now we have to paint a 22' x 16' room. Le sigh.

3. 3 large pieces of furniture arrived just a little too soon and now we have to paint around them. Booby blames me.

4. 4th large piece of furniture is being picked up tomorrow. Booby officially hates me.

5. Have I mentioned we are putting our house on the market in the Spring? Hence this flurry of home improvement activity.

6. Oh, and looking at houses to buy elsewhere on weekends. Like the huge money pit that we'd really like to buy, but are all too aware would cause our divorce. Jesus, we can't even handle a one-room remodel, let alone 8 rooms and a carriage house (even though I really, really want a carriage house).

7. 2 colds caught in a space of 3 weeks. Most recent cold lasted 3 weeks (and lingers still!) and was notable for the dry, racking cough it produced. I slept in the spare bedroom (in a not-so-roomy twin) for several nights, often with a cranky 7-month-old who backslid on his sleep training.

8. Rampant eBay addiction has worsened with the onset of the holiday season. Pathetic, I know.

9. Lack of quality sleep causing me to stumble around house with baby in tow, moaning "Braaaaaains!" That whole "sleep when your baby sleeps" thing only works if you aren't expected to do anything else, like laundry, or cleaning the house, or brushing your teeth.

10. Would you believe that after the Great Flea Roundup of Summer '07, we had the Great Indian Mealmoth Massacre of Fall '07? They wouldn't. Stop. Appearing. Even after I cleaned out every single frigging cabinet in my house (I found cocoons everywhere, including in packages of tea bags. It was awful.), until Booby discovered that they were laying eggs in the lid of the food scrap bin we kept in the kitchen. Needless to say, the food scrap bin has been relocated to the outdoors. Yes, I revel in moth death. Some of God's creatures are just too annoying once they have colonized all of one's foodstuffs.

And now my silly rant is over. The end.